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Young continentals at Bunker Hill 


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The Young 


at Bunker Hill 

John T. M^I ntyre 


"TheYbung Continentals at Lexington' 
"The Young Continentals at Trenton" 
The Young Continentals atMcmmouth* 

Illustrated by Ralph L.Boyer. 

The Penio PubU/hing 
Company Philadelphia 


1910 BY 


"The Young Continentals at Bunker Hill" 
tells of four boys who were with the Ameri- 
can Army in the siege of Boston. It shows 
how Gage and the British Army were 
hemmed in by the colonial troops, tells of the 
stirring events in and about the beleaguered 
city, and finally of the heroic stand upon 
Breed's Hill by Putnam, Prescott and the 
little patriot army. There is something also 
of the fights upon islands in the bay, of the 
coming of Washington to assume command, 
and the hoisting of the first American Union 

The same boys figured in an earlier volume, 

"The Young Continentals at Lexington." 

Their adventures are equally stirring here, 

and the blows struck for liberty equally 

shrewd. This time Ezra Prentiss of the four 

boys has the leading r61e ; once suspected of 

being an enemy to the colonies, he now 

proves that none can be more faithful than 




Ezra and his friends appear again in a 
volume called "The Young Continentals at 
Trenton." It tells something of the struggles 
about New York, and finally of the brilliant 
successes at Trenton and Princeton, in all of 
which the boys play their little parts bravely 
and well. They appear also in "The Young 
Continentals at Monmouth." 


I. How Ezra Prentiss Heard of a 

Stranger 9 

11. Shows How Ezra Met With Gilbert 

Scarlett, Soldier of Fortune . 23 

in. Tells How Ezra Entered the House 

OF Abdallah 36 

IV. Tells What Befell Him Therein . 52 
V. How Jason Collyer Came to the 

" Plow and Harrow " . . '63 
VI. Shows How Ezra Adventured Toward 

the " Indian's Head " . . • ^7 
VII. Ezra Meets With a Strange Ex- 
perience no 

VIII. Ezra Makes Up His Mind to a 

Dangerous Venture . . .125 
IX. In Which Ezra Fares Into the City 
OF THE Enemy, and Hears the Voice 
OF AN Acquaintance . . .138 
X. Tells How III News Came to General 

Gage 150 

XI. Tells How Ezra and Scarlett Thrived 
IN Boston, and How They Left It 

In the Night 170 

XII. Shows How Ezra and the Adventurer 

Won by the British Fleet . .201 
XIII. Shows How Ezra Rode With Prescott 

Toward Bunker Hill . . • 215 


XIV. In Which is Fought the Battle of 

Bunker Hill 234 

XV. Shows How Ezra Carried the News 
OF THE Battle, and How He Met 
General Washington by the Way 261 
XVI. In Which Ezra Listens to a Daring 
Plan, and How Three Spies Listen 
to it Likewise .... 276 
XVII. Tells of a Ride Through the Wil- 
derness, AND of How Ticonderoga's 
Guns Began Their Journey . . 306 
XVIIL Conclusion 322 



The Man Took a Step Forward . . Frontispiece 

" You Practice the Art of Healing, Sir " . 46 

Dr. Warren Talked in the Same Strain . . 104 

General Gage Looked AT THE Speaker , . . 156 

Putnam Struck the Table 223 

Nat Grasped the Hand of Washington . . 271 

No Time was Lost by Knox • 316 

The Young Continentals at Bunker Hill 


The Young Continentals 
at Bunker Hill 



The tall bay horse and the little roan 
mare went at a hard gallop down the long, 
gentle descent of a hill. Both were flecked 
with foam, for the going was hard, despite 
the brisk April weather. 

" How is the mare taking it ? " asked Ezra 
Prentiss, after a time, drawing in the bay and 
patting his arched neck encouragingly. 

The roan snorted and shook her head as 
though trying to answer for herself. 

" It^s rather hard on her, I'm afraid," re- 
turned Ben Cooper. " But she's good for a 
great deal more of it." 

Part way down the slope both boys checked 
their mounts completely as though by 
mutual consent. Ezra sat silently in his sad- 



die and swept the countryside with his 
steady gaze. 

It was mid-afternoon and the sun was 
dropping fast toward the horizon in the west. 
Acres and acres of brown furrowed fields lay 
before them upon every side ; afar off, men 
and horses were toiling with the plows; 
little clumps of houses were to be seen here 
and there, and tall columns of smoke 
ascended from the wide-mouthed chimneys 
into the clear air. 

" We are going to have plenty to do from 
here to Chelmsford," spoke Ezra at length. 
" The houses thicken considerably and there 
seem to be a great many men at work in the 
fields." He paused once more, and then 
turning to Ben, added, " Do you think we 
can speak to all of them before night sets 

** If you took one road and I another, we 
might," said Ben. 

Ezra frowned. It was very evident that he 
did not particularly favor this. 

" Since starting out from Cambridge we 
have separated twice," said he. " And each 
time it had an almost serious result." 


" First a parcel of Tories were for putting 
an end to me for what they called treason to 
King and Parliament/^ spoke Ben, good- 

** And that rascally tinker near Acton 
almost decoyed me into another nest of 
them," added Ezra. " In these unsettled 
times the road is safer for two than one, 
especially after dark/' 

Ben nodded. 

" Right," said he. 

" However," proceeded Ezra, " more or less 
danger was expected when we started out." 
He touched the handle of a heavy holster 
pistol, and something of Ben's good humor 
came into his face. " Another thing, the 
Tories are running as much risk as we are." 

** Right again," declared the other boy. 
" That, I think, is the proper way to look 
at it." 

" And then," continued Ezra, shifting his 
hand to a saddle pocket, almost filled to 
bursting with what looked like printed 
sheets, " we have these to deliver and no 
great time to do it in." 

There was a silence between them ; they 


studied the country from the hillside and 
seemed to be revolving the matter earnestly. 
The brown fields were cut by the fairly 
smooth road which they were on, and a nar- 
row, rutted wagonway. 

** I'll take this," said Ezra, pointing toward 
the latter ; '* there seem to be quite a number 
of farmhouses over there beyond that rise, if 
we can judge by the smoke. You hold to the 
highroad and don't miss a single man or 

''Trust me for that," said Ben. ''But," 
eomplainingly, " you always pick the hardest 
things to do for yourself. Molly is just as 
fresh as that beast of yours. And then she's 
lighter and can pick her way along that broken 
road like a cat." 

Ezra laughed ; and there was a look of 
appreciation in his eyes as he slapped his 
friend upon the back. 

" Ben," exclaimed he, " you're the greatest 
fellow I ever knew ! You always think your 
share of the work the easiest, no matter what 
it is. If General Ward had an army of 
fellows like you before Boston, Gage would 
not be able to hold the town for a week." 


Far away, against the horizon line, a spire 
arose from amidst a clump of dwellings. 

^' I will meet you there as soon after dark 
as I can/' continued Ezra, his outstretched 
finger indicating the tower. " If there is an 
inn wait for me there.*' 

After a few words more, Ezra urged the 
reluctant bay into the much cut wagon road ; 
Ben, upon the soft-stepping roan, went loping 
easily down the highroad, his usually laugh- 
ing face grave as became a rider with an urgent 
mission to perform. 

Ezra Prentiss after a time dismounted and 
led his steed by the bridle. 

" Mr. Paul Revere used to say a horse well 
looked after always finished earlier in the 
day,** said he to himself with a smile. '* And 
I guess it*s true. At any rate, old fellow,** to 
the bay, ** the going is too hard for a rider 
here ; so 1*11 try walking for a little, any- 

In a field he saw two men working with 
teams of oxen. He waited at a fence corner 
until one of them had completed his furrow. 

" Good-day, neighbor,'* called the boy. 

" Good-day,'* returned the farmer. 


He wiped the sweat from his forehead and 
approached Ezra, glad of an excuse for a mo- 
ment's rest from his toil. 

" Riding from Boston way ? '' he inquired 
eagerly. ^ 

** I left Cambridge a few days ago," replied 

As he spoke the lad drew out one of the 
sheets from his saddle pocket and unfolded it. 
It was covered with an announcement in 
heavy, bold-faced type. 

" This/' said the boy, " is issued by the 
Massachusetts Committee of Safety, and riders 
have been sent out in every direction to de- 
liver them to the towns and people round- 

The farmer took the circular and began an 
earnest study of its appeal. The other man, 
seeing that something unusual was going for- 
ward, halted his team and also approached. 
Leaning over the shoulder of the first, he, too, 
read the earnest lines. 

" You have heard long since what has been 
done," said Ezra, soberly, when the two had 
finished and stood silently gazing at him. 
** We have struck the first real blow against 


the oppressors of the colonies. But what was 
done at Lexington and Concord is only a be- 

" A beginning I " said the first man, in sur- 

"Do you really mean to say that Dr. 
Warren and those others actually intend to 
go further in the matter?" exclaimed the 

" They must/' said Ezra. The two before 
him had weak, wavering faces and thin, light- 
colored hair; from the close resemblance 
they bore each other, he judged they must be 
brothers. " To get any result from the first 
blow, a second must be struck,*' he went on. 
** There would have been no use in making 
a beginning if an ending were not also 

"England is a powerful nation," said the 
first man. " Eh, Josiah ? " 

" Mighty powerful," agreed the other, " and 
so is the King and Parliament." 

" If the people of the colonies remain 
united and if every man does his full duty, 
the power of England, her King and Parlia- 
ment, will be as that," and the boy snapped 


his fingers. " This circular calls for the 
towns to encourage the enlistment of men 
in the colonial army, as you have seen. It 
tells you that every moment is precious. A 
day's delay may mean the loss of all ; it may 
bring slavery upon you.*' He was quoting 
the document. 

But the two men shook their heads. Inde- 
cision and fear of the situation were plain in 
their faces. 

" We've just lately taken this farm," said the 
one called Josiah, ** and we've counted on this 
season's yield to help pay for it. We can't go 
into the army." 

" If every one thought of his personal af- 
fairs," said Ezra, " our tyrants would crush us 
into the earth." The boy had absorbed the 
resonant talk of the times, and its use had be- 
come a habit upon the present mission. 
** Take, for instance, men like Mr. Hancock, 
Mr. Adams, Dr. Warren, and a score of others. 
They risk very large fortunes in the cause ; 
they give every moment of their time to it. 
They have done so from the first." 

But there was one thing that the men were 
firm in — their indecision. 


" We'd like to join ; we'd like to do all we 
can. But things won't let us." The speaker 
shook his head nervously. " No, things won't 
let us." 

"You think that by holding back you'll 
save your property, your season's crop and all 
that," spoke Ezra Prentiss. "But I believe 
you are mistaken. Suppose most of the men 
and boys of the towns held back as you seem 
inclined to do ? What then ? " 

" It might be a good thing," answered 
Josiah, fearfully. 

" It is sure to be a very bad thing for you 
and everybody else. If there is no army to 
oppose him. Gage will march his regiments 
out of the city, and he'll seize, burn and 
destroy until he has the people of Massachu- 
setts upon their knees." 

The fear that filled the eyes of the two 
brothers was almost pitiful to see. 

" Do you think that will happen ? " asked one. 

" I sincerely do," returned Ezra, who, to tell 
the truth, was rather disgusted at this exhibi- 
tion of selfish cowardice. 

The farmers consulted together in whispers. 
Then Josiah said : 


" As my brother remarked, we'd like to do 
all we can. But we have doubts. It's not 
altogether our property that holds us back." 

*' What then ? " asked Ezra. 

The man looked toward his brother, who 
nodded what was intended to be encourage- 
ment ; but it was of a very timorous sort, in- 

" Things hereabouts are not altogether 
right," said Josiah, lowering his voice to a 
whisper and leaning over the fence that Ezra 
might hear. ** They haven't been just what 
you might call right for some time." 

Ezra regarded him wonderingly. 

" Nothing has been right in all the colony 
for some time," said he. " So what you say is 
not surprising." 

The man coughed dryly and waved his hand. 

" You don't quite understand what I mean," 
said he. " What you refer to is what every- 
body has seen, and everybody knows. But 
what I refer to is what nobody but my 
brother and I have seen, and what, more than 
likely, nobody else has any idea of" 

" Something that has to do with the public 
good ? " inquired Ezra. 


The man hesitated ; but his brother made 
answer for him. 

" Yes/* spoke he, "you might call it that." 

Ezra led his horse nearer to the fence and 
threw the rein over a post. 

** Perhaps," said he, " you wouldn't mind 
being a little more definite." 

Once more the men consulted in whispers. 

" He's only a boy," Ezra heard Josiah pro- 

" But he's from the head of matters at 
Boston," argued the other, in a low but per- 
fectly distinct tone. " They seem to trust 
him, so why not we ? " 

This seemed unanswerable reasoning ; so 
Josiah again turned to the lad. 

" Do you know this section very well ? " he 

" No," replied Ezra. 

** Well, we do," said the man. " In fact, we 
were born and raised hereabouts. And we 
know every man-jack for miles around." 

" Naturally," said the boy. 

" So," proceeded Josiah, " if a stranger 
comes to live here, particularly a queer-acting 
stranger, we'd be likely to take notice of him. 


And if he rented the next place to ours," with 
a jerk of the head down the wagon way, " we'd 
be likely to more than particularly take no- 

*' Well ? " asked Ezra, patiently 

"Some time ago, just such a man did just 
that very thing," said the farmer earnestly. 
" He is odd. He's not friendly. He keeps great 
dogs and, save for them, seems to live alone. 
But now and then strangers come. They al- 
ways come after dark and are gone by day- 
light. Who they are, and what they are, we 
never have been able to find out." 

" It does seem rather queer," admitted 
Ezra. " But I can scarcely see just how it can 
have anything to do with the matter between 
the colonies and the King's government." 

" Neither do we," confessed Josiah. " We 
can't see it either. But we feel it. It's just 
as though we were being watched, somehow. 
We feel that everything we do is taken note 
of by somebody we can't place. And we 
think," again fearfully nodding down the 
wagonway, " that it's that man." 

Ezra studied the men carefully. That they 
were of a tight-fisted, timorous sort, he had 


already made up his mind ; but he had not 
given them credit for so much imagination as 
they displayed. However, that they were 
sincere was not to be denied. 

He remained for some time, questioning 
them curiously ; at length he mounted his 
horse and prepared to move on. 

" It's more than likely," said he, settling 
himself in the saddle, ** that this man's 
strange way of living has gradually brought 
you to thinking other strange things of him." 
He gathered up his reins ; the bay moved 
forward a few steps ; then he was brought to 
a halt once more, and the boy turned, one 
hand resting on its flank. " Where did you 
say he lived ? " he asked with a careless air. 

^* About three miles below there," said 
Josiah's brother, pointing down the road. 
** You come to a wood, then to a stream of 
water, crossed by a bridge, and just above it is 
the house, by the roadside. But don't stop. 
Because if the dogs are loose, which they gen- 
erally are, coming on night, there's no telling 
what they'll do." 

" Thanks," replied Ezra. " I'll look out for 
them." He waved his hand. " Good-bye, 


and give the Committee's circular another 
reading. There are truths in it that can't be 

Then with a glance at the fast lowering sun, 
he touched the bay with the spur and turned 
down the narrow road. 



" I SINCERELY trust," mused Ezra Prentiss 
as he rode along on his way, ** that there are 
not many men like those in the colonies. If 
there are, the cause is sure to be defeated. 
They are too cowardly and selfish to do any- 
thing but clutch what they have and cry out 
in fear of its being taken away from them." 

For a moment a shadow rested upon his 
face. Then the picture flashed across his 
mind of the heroic line at Lexington, of the 
desperate rush at Concord Bridge, the long, 
running fight into Boston town. These had 
happened only a few weeks before ; and a 
smile banished the shadow instantly. 

** The men who did those things were neither 
selfish nor cowardly," he told himself ** They 
are as brave as any upon the earth, and would 
give all they possessed in the cause of freedom. 
They drove Earl Percy before them when they 



were merely a gathering of half-armed farmers ; 
and when drilled and properly equipped, they 
will prove their worth to General Gage, his 
army and the hostile King/' 

Several times he left the road and crossed 
some fields at sight of chimney-stacks or 
shingled roofs ; and each time he talked earn- 
estly with the householders and left one or 
more of the circulars printed by the Committee 
of Safety. But each time he returned to the 
wagon road. 

" It's not because I expect to come upon 
any great number of people," he said, as the 
question as to why he did this presented itself 
to him. *' And it is not because it is an easy 
road to travel." He paused for a moment and 
then added : " I wonder just how much this 
stranger, who lives so oddly and in such a 
queer place, has to do with it? " 

He laughed as the tall bay took a fence and 
landed once more in the much-cut road. 

" That's it," he continued. *' It's curiosity. 
I want to see the man who has made those 
two, back there, fear him so." 

He had perhaps gone a mile and a half in 
a straight course, when the fences began to 


thin ; trees lined the roadside and grew in 
thick clumps upon every hand ; the ground 
looked rough and stony ; apparently no plow 
had ever broken it, no axe had ever been 
leveled against the timber. 

Heavy boughs, showing the first green of 
spring, hung so low that Ezra was forced to 
bend low in his saddle in order to avoid them. 
He was riding in this fashion when he was 
suddenly startled by a voice, apparently only 
a few yards away, calling to him. 

'' Hullo, you, sir I " 

Ezra drew in the bay and turned in his 
saddle. A tall, strongly-built young man in 
long leather boots, and wearing a hat with a 
plume in it, was standing beside a fallen 

" A moment of your time, if you please," 
commanded this personage, in a voice that 
was not to be denied. 

" You have met with an accident, I see,'^ 
remarked Ezra, with a glance at the prostrate 
beast. " Is he badly hurt ? " 

'^ I think he is all but finished," replied the 
young man in the long boots. '^ He was rec- 
ommended to me as a nag of perfect quality ; 


but I have found none such in this sadly de- 
serted corner of the earth." 

The speaker wore moustaches, something 
seldom or never seen in those days. They 
were black, with spiky points, and he twisted 
at them savagely. 

" But I have found in my journeys through 
the world that good horses are only grown 
where there are fine up-standing men to see 
to them," continued the stranger. He drew 
up his soft leather boots and shifted his heavy 
sword belt, which bore a huge brass buckle. 
Then he devoted his attention to the mous- 
taches once more. 

" You are not of the colonies, then ? " in- 
quired Ezra. 

The other drew himself up haughtily and 
stared at the speaker. 

** I trust, sir," spoke he in a measured voice, 
** that I do not convey that impression. I am 
Gilbert Scarlett, late of the Spanish service 
and once of those of Hanover, Wurtemberg, 
Portugal and the Swiss. Also two campaigns 
have I served with the Turks in Egypt, and 
once I bore a commission from the Czar of 


Ezra regarded the other with wonderment. 
That so young a man could have had so wide 
a military experience seemed extraordinary 
indeed. But, in spite of the boastful tone 
and exaggerated manner, there was that about 
the stranger that might make a doubter pause. 

** I am pleased to meet you, Mr. Scarlett,*' 
said Ezra Prentiss, politely. *' And I must 
say that I am rather astonished to see a man 
of your parts in so unusual a place." 

** You might well be," returned the other, 
slapping his boot-leg with his riding-whip. 
** And truth to tell, I am a trifle astonished 
myself. But matters between the Spanish 
and the French grew very monotonous to- 
ward the last, below there in the Floridas and 
on the Gulf. They made war very politely 
and saw to it that there was plenty of breath- 
ing time between cannon-shots. So I took 
ship and came north. They told me that the 
clouds were gathering here and that there 
would be much credit for a man of my inches 
to gain, in one way and another." 

"If you look for fighting," said Ezra, 
soberly, " I fancy youll get your fill of it be- 
fore many days." 


The other laughed and leaned gracefully 
against a tree. He had thick black brows, 
and he bent them at the young New Eng- 
lander jeeringly. 

*' Fighting ! " mocked he. ^' Where is it to 
come from ? Gage has an army of veterans 
and dare not come out. This other man " 

" General Ward ? " suggested Ezra, as the 
other hesitated. 

" Yes — thanks. General Ward has gath- 
ered a rabble of peasants w hich would tear off 
like sheep at the first sound of a heavy 

'' You are wrong," cried Ezra warmly. '* I 
saw them under fire. They acted the part of 

'* Tve heard of that fight," said the young 
man. " Pshaw ! Such a thing is not a test. 
Wait until they are forced to sleep out under 
the stars, to mount guard in the wet, to obey 
popinjay officers, to keep hungry bellies for 
days on end, to be sick without physic, to be 
cold without clothing, to be beaten and asked 
to fight again. That will show the color of 
their courage, sir. Your General Ward may 
be satisfied with less ; but nothing short of all 


I've mentioned would answer the needs of an 
old campaigner.'' 

To hear him with his youthful face, and 
sprouting moustaches, calling himself by such 
a name, caused Ezra to smile. Instantly the 
face of Gilbert Scarlett changed. 

" But it seems that I am wasting good time 
speaking with you," said he, coldly. *' I find 
that men of experience are not understood by 
colonials." His hard, black eyes ran over 
the lines of the tall bay horse which Ezra be- 
strode, and he proceeded, *' That is a fair- 
looking charger. Anyhow, it's the best to be 
had at this time, I suppose. So do me the 
favor to get down." 

Ezra looked at the speaker in some sur- 

" Perhaps you will explain," said he. 

" The situation is so plain," proclaimed 
Gilbert Scarlett, " that I can scarcely see the 
need of an explanation. But, since you ask 
for one, here it is. My horse can go no 
farther. Yours can. So, as I have urgent 
affairs to transact, I propose that we make an 

" It would seem that your military school- 


ing has taught you to expect the better of a 
bargain, if nothing else," said Ezra quietly. 

The other laughed. 

** It would have been of very little value if 
it hadn't/' said he. He once more hitched at 
his sword belt, and this time the movement 
held the elements of a threat. ** But," he 
went on, " that is neither here nor there. We 
will come totheexchangeatonce, if you please.'* 

" I am glad that you mentioned that last," 
smiled Ezra. "Suppose I don't please?" 

The points of the spiky moustache went up 
and the heavy black brows came down. 

" In that event," said Gilbert Scarlett, " I 
shall be forced to alter your mind." 

A little earlier, Ezra had had before him a 
youthful, careless face, had listened to boast- 
ful, empty speech and had smiled. But in an 
instant all was altered. The face was now 
hard and lined ; the careless mouth was tight 
shut and cruel looking, the voice was sharp 
and peremptory. 

** Once more — and for the last time, mark 
you — I invite you to get down." 

" I think your contempt for colonials has 
led you astray," said Ezra, still with a smile. 


" We do not give up our belongings so easily 
in this part of the world/^ 

The man took a step forward, his breath 
seeming to hiss between his teeth ; then his 
sword flashed out of its scabbard. But at the 
same instant Ezra's long holster pistol came 
into play. The afternoon light gleamed 
dully upon the steel barrel, as he supported it 
in the hollow of his left arm. 

" Before you display any of your deftness 
with the sword blade," spoke the young New 
Englander, coolly, " listen to a few words 
of disinterested advice. I say disinterested, 
because it makes no difference to me how you 
take it. But it would, perhaps, be a great 
deal better for you if you reconsidered this 
matter. A gentleman of your confessed mili- 
tary experience can no doubt play the sword 
with accuracy. But don't forget that a bullet 
travels faster — and don't compel me to start 
this one on its travels." 

The young stranger listened to this quietly- 
spoken warning with varying expressions of 
face. At first it seemed that he would defy the 
pistol ; indeed he drew back his arm for a blow. 
Then he paused, baffled ; at last a comical look 


came upon his face, his point touched the 
ground and he stepped back with a ringing 

*' For your advice I offer many thanks.'* 
He took off his hat as he spoke and its plume 
swept the earth. " And I will take it," driv- 
ing his blade back in its sheath. " I have 
made a grave military blunder. In what you 
call my contempt for colonials I overlooked 
the possibility of your being armed. I admit 
defeat and pray you mercy. *' 

The situation was so quaint a one that Ezra 
also laughed. But he did not take his eyes 
from the other, neither did his pistol go back 
to its place in the holster. 

" The situation remains as it was when I 
came up," said the boy. " Here you stand be- 
side your fallen horse and off I go on my way 
to Chelmsford." 

He touched the bay with the spur ; but it 
had only taken a few steps when Gilbert 
Scarlett once more lifted his voice. Ezra drew 
rein and the man advanced. 

" You are going toward Chelmsford ? " in- 
quired he. 

*' Yes," returned Ezra. 


'* By this road ? " 

*' If I can.'' 

** It always shows good quality in a soldier to 
be generous to a defeated foe," smiled the 
young man. He paused a moment and studied 
Ezra carefully ; and as he did so the latter 
noted an odd light dancing in his eyes. '' As 
I have said/' Scarlett resumed. '' I have urgent 
affairs that under other circumstances would 
require me to press on. And as I can't do 
this, I would ask you to grant me a favor." 

*^ What is it?" asked Ezra. 

** At Cambridge I was entrusted with a mis- 
sion of more or less importance," spoke Scarlett 
easily. '* And as the gentleman who so en- 
trusted me was most genial and generous, 
though to speak the truth I did not know him 
from Adam's elder brother, I would like to see 
the matter carried through as contracted." 

He drew from his belt a packet of papers 
sealed with black wax. 

'' I was required to take this way and ride 
until I came to a certain bridge," said Scarlett. 
" Not far from this I was to come upon a 
house where I was to stop and ask for a man 
by the name of Abdallah. When I saw him I 


was to hand over these," and the speaker held 
up the packet. 

At sight of the packet and Scarlett's an- 
nouncement that he had been bidden to come 
that way, Ezra's attention became fixed. The 
two farmers had spoken of unknown riders who 
came and went to their mysterious neighbor's. 
But when the other mentioned the bridge and 
the house not far from it, the boy's eyes 
snapped with expectation. However, when he 
spoke his voice was unconcerned enough. 

*' And now, I suppose, you want me to under- 
take to finish what you have begun?" said he. 

** If you will be so kind," replied Scarlett, 
with a little bow. " It will not take you out 
of your way, since you are going by this road, 
and it will greatly relieve my mind." 

Ezra bent forward and took the papers in 
his left hand. Thrusting them into the breast 
of his coat, he said with a laugh : 

" It would show a sad lack of charity on my 
part to leave you in a disturbed state of mind. 
A disabled horse and a long road are calamities 
enough for any man." 

" I thank you," said Scarlett. He tugged at 
his moustache with one hand ; the thumb of the 


other was stuck in his sword belt, his legs were 
very wide apart, and the plumed hat was set 
well back upon his head. " You are a ready 
youth and a generous one. Perhaps your wit 
is not all that it will be in the years to come. 
Nevertheless, I say that you are a ready youth. 
And further, I will add that you have the mak- 
ings in you of a most excellent soldier." 

Once more the long plume swept the ground 
as Ezra, with a wave of the hand, rode away ; 
and the last the boy saw of him he was strip- 
ping the saddle from the fallen horse and ap- 
parently railing against his ill luck in a most 
hearty fashion. 



*' Rather an odd character, I should think," 
mused the young New Englander as he rode 
along. " A soldier of fortune from his own 
account ; and from my own observations, one 
ready enough to provide himself with anything 
that he lacked. But he seemed rather a good 
sort, for all," with a laugh, " even if he did 
draw his blade on me and afterward cast re- 
flections upon my wit. I'm sure if I saw more 
of him I'd come to like him." 

The pace was slow on account of the bad con- 
dition of the road ; and gradually the sun 
slipped downward in the west. At length, in a 
gloomy, sunken place, Ezra came upon a for- 
bidding-looking stream flowing into a shattered 
dam. « 

A treacherous-looking bridge of unstripped 
timber crossed it ; and a little to the left was 
an abandoned mill with staring, empty win- 



dows ; its broken roof was covered with green 
moss, a wheel hanging rotten and silent at its 

" And some little way along I am to find a 
house by the roadside, am I ? " said the lad as 
he looked about upon this sullen picture. 
" Well, it takes different tastes to make a 
world, of course ; but I'd never have thought 
that any one would select a spot like this for a 

Gingerly the bay picked its way across the 
bridge ; the aged timbers swayed and groaned ; 
through the open seams between the planks, 
the dark water could be seen flowing slug- 
gishly along. 

Just beyond the bridge the road took an 
abrupt bend ; and as Ezra rounded this he 
found himself in sight of the house. 

He had only time to note that it was two 
stories in height and that heavy shutters 
guarded all the windows, when there came 
a most tremendous barking of dogs. Lion- 
like, three enormous mastiffs leaped the low 
fence that ran about the house and rushed at 
horse and rider. 

The bay reared, his nostrils widening and 


his eyes shining with fright. Ezra tightened 
the rein, spoke soothingly to him and at the 
same time reached for his holster pistol. 
With wide jaws the great beasts bounded 
forward ; then came a sharp whistle and 
instantly they paused, growling, indeed, and 
with savage eyes, but advancing no farther. 

From around one corner of the house came 
a man of commanding stature and remarkable 
appearance. He was attired in a long, loose, 
robe-like garment such as Ezra had seen in 
pictures of Eastern peoples. His head was 
entirely bald, though the face was smooth, 
unlined and gave few signs of age. His com- 
plexion was swarthy and his eyes singularly 
large, dark and gentle-looking. 

" I ask your pardon, young sir," said this 
strange-looking personage smoothly. " My 
poor beasts are a trifle unruly at times. But," 
reassuringly, ** believe me, there is no harm 
in them." 

Ezra looked down into the bloodshot eyes 
and formidable jaws of the brutes. He said 
nothing in answer to the man's statement ; 
but he held to his own opinion, nevertheless. 

The man advanced to the fence, and Ezra 


noted that he wore no shoes. His feet were 
bound in sandals ; also he was belted with a 
thick cord into which was stuck an ancient- 
looking, leather-covered book. 

But the stranger's most striking and notice- 
able feature was his soft gentleness of manner. 
Ezra felt this the moment his eyes rested upon 
the swarthy face; it were as though nothing 
could excite its owner to anger or intolerance. 
And yet, for all that, as the boy gazed at the 
strangely-clad one, that distinct feeling of re- 
pulsion came upon him which we feel in the 
presence of those whom we naturally distrust. 

Here the man spoke to the dogs which still 
stood near at hand, growling and casting sav- 
age looks at Ezra. 

"Blood," said he, gently, "go in, brave 
dog. Death, away with you. Bones, be 

The voice was soft, even purring ; but the 
grisly names of the brutes caused Ezra to 

Obediently the animals turned and leaped 
into the enclosure once more. And as they 
passed their master, Ezra noted that they 
crouched and fawned. 


" Only beaten dogs do that," thought the 
boy. Then, as he surveyed the man care- 
fully, " I wonder just how much of this 
gentleness is real and how much assumed ? " 

As the mastiffs vanished behind the house, 
the man turned to Ezra once more. 

" The road is seldom frequented," said he, 
apologetically ; " and so, poor beasts, they 
are not accustomed to travelers." The soft, 
dark eyes examined Ezra with much atten- 
tion ; then the speaker went on, *' I sincerely 
trust that you have taken neither harm nor 

" Not in the least," replied Ezra readily. 
** My horse was a bit startled ; but that is 

Instantly the dark eyes went to the horse ; 
its weary condition seemed to excite the 
stranger's sympathy. 

" You have ridden far? " said he, gently. 

'* From Cambridge," replied Ezra. '* But 
it has taken several days." 

** And you are going ? " here the other 

paused with undoubted expectancy. 

*' Toward Chelmsford," replied Ezra. 

The man seemed baffled ; he passed one 


hand over his shining bald head as though 
in meditation. But the singular dark eyes 
never left the boy's face. 

" This is rather an unusual way to select/^ 
he said at last. '* Rough and indirect 

'^ Perhaps so/' said Ezra. ** But I had some 
small matters of business hereabouts." 

An eager look came into the man's face ; he 
held up one hand with an inquiring gesture. 

" You were to ask for some one ? " said he. 

** Yes. For a gentleman of the name of 

" I am he," said the other humbly. '* Ab- 
dallah — son of Hamid — a poor scholar, and a 
friend to all the world." 

Ezra took out the packet from the breast of 
his coat ; riding close to the fence he gave it 
into Abdallah's hands. 

" I thank you," said the man. " I had 
been expecting you for some days." 

His fingers pattered nervously upon the 
papers ; it was plain to see that he was all 
eagerness to tear them open that he might 
come at their contents. 

But he restrained himself; with calm eyes 
he looked at Ezra and said : 


" Perhaps it was part of your instructions 
that you bear back any answer to these that 
might be necessary." 

Ezra hesitated for a moment. His first im- 
pulse was to make a plain statement of the 
facts, to tell him how he met Scarlett by the 
wayside, relate how the papers had been 
handed over to him, and why. But second 
thought prompted him to take advantage of 
the other^s mistake. What the lad had heard 
of Abdallah had interested him exceedingly. 
If there were anything unusual in his trans- 
actions, or anything against the public good, 
here was a most excellent opportunity of 
throwing a light upon the matter. 

So, like a flash, he made up his mind. 

** I was given no instructions by the gentle- 
man who entrusted me with this errand,*' 
said he, " save only that I was to hand the 
packet to you." 

Abdallah nodded his head. 

'* It is well to be careful. I have always 
approved of such a method," spoke he. 

The great dark eyes were fixed upon Ezra^s 
face ; for all their gentleness, the boy fancied 
that he caught an element of speculation in 


them. But before he had time to note more, 
the man proceeded : 

" I am a reader of faces and you have a 
faithful look. You are of the type that would 
be apt to do anything that he engaged to do.*' 
He tapped the papers upon the palm of one 
hand for a moment, as though considering ; 
then proceeded : *' Will you carry the answer 
to the person who gave these ? " And the 
eyes narrowed. 

*' He was an utter stranger to me/* said Ezra. 
** I would not know where to look for him.** 

The man laughed softly and seemed satisfied. 

" In matters like this," said he, " it is not 
always wise to give names or addresses. It 
might prove inconvenient. However, it does 
not matter. I will so advise you as to the an- 
swer that you cannot well go astray.'* 

With that Ezra dismounted without more 
ado. Tying his horse to the gate-post, he fol- 
lowed the man through a low, wide doorway 
into the house. 

The boy was open-eyed for something un- 
usual. What he had heard of Abdallah, and, 
indeed, the man*s personal appearance, led 
him to be so ; and he was not disappointed. 


Without, the house was clumsy and ill- 
shaped, the product perhaps of an uncouth 
workman of past generations. It was also 
neglected, unpainted and weather-stained. 
The enclosure about it was yellow with the 
weeds of a summer before. 

But within all was different. The shutters 
did not admit a ray of light ; candles, set in 
queer twisted sconces of copper, burned behind 
rose-colored shades of glass. Large mirrors 
glittered upon the walls ; the doorways were 
hung with rich draperies ; a soft Turkey 
carpet and rich rugs were upon the floor. 
Several broad couches covered with crimson 
leather stood about. 

And books were everywhere — upon shelves, 
upon tables and chairs ; faded scrolls covered 
with strange Oriental characters were scattered 
about ; queer manuscripts, musty and tattered, 
lay open to view where some one had been 
lately consulting them. 

On a broad, brick hearth stood a small 
furnace with a leather bellows attached. Be- 
side this were queer instruments and vessels 
of metal and glass at whose uses the boy could 
only guess. 



" Be seated, I beg of you," spoke Abdallah, 
with grave courtesy. " It is but a poor place 
to ask a guest ; but to what there is, you are 
welcome indeed." 

Ezra sat down upon one of the couches. It 
was soft and extremely comforting to one who 
had been in the saddle since early morning. 
And as he sat, his eyes went about the apart- 
ment wonderingly. 

The man noted this and smiled. Ezra 
hastened to say : 

*' I ask your pardon. But there is not, I 
will venture to say, such another place as this 
in all Massachusetts." 

Abdallah inclined his stately head gravely. 

*' No doubt you are right," said he. " In 
this Western world the lore of the East is all 
but unknown." He sighed and shook his 
head. *' All is so new. The men, the cus- 
toms, the very country. They have no 
leisure for employment of a deeper sort." 

Ezra looked at the speaker curiously. 

" I have heard but little of the unusual 
sciences of the East," said he, " and have read 
very little more. I have no doubt but that 
they are wonderful and interesting ; and I am 


pleased to meet with a gentleman so learned 
in them/* 

Abdallah made a gesture of protest. 

** You give me too much credit," said he, 
gravely. ** I am but a poor scholar. 'Tis 
true that some of the mysteries of life have 
been made known to me. But that is all. 
I am a struggling student as yet, and cannot 
hope to be more until years of labor have 
been gone through." 

Glass vessels containing liquids stood upon 
a shelf. They were long necked and yet 
with squat, round bodies ; their contents were 
of amber, purple, jade and other rich colors 
and they twinkled and flashed in the sub- 
dued light of the candles. 

" You practice the art of healing, sir, I per- 
ceive," suggested Ezra, looking at these. 

But Abdallah shook his head. 

" I am fairly well versed in the business of 
a leech," he replied. ** But I give but little 
time to it." 

Here Ezra caught an odd, muffled, linger- 
ing sound. It was low and indistinct. 
Thinking it was something outside — a bird, a 
small animal or such — he paid no attention to 

■'■ SIR " 


it. But at the same time he noticed a pecul- 
iar expression upon the face of Abdallah, 
and he also saw the look which the man 
flashed at him. 

" To be a surgeon, or even an apothecary in 
such a lonely place, would profit mankind or 
myself very little,'' proceeded the man in his 
usual tone of grave gentleness. 

He smiled at the boy, who nodded a reply. 
Again the odd sound was repeated. It was 
murmurous and lingering, rising and falling 
in a measured sort of way. 

" It is within the house," Ezra told him- 
self. "And it is the voice of some one in 

But he felt the dark eyes of the Oriental 
fixed upon him and his face never changed. 
The sound, apparently, was one that Abdallah 
would prefer to have unheard ; so Ezra's face 
held nothing but polite interest in the other's 

" I suppose you are quite right," said the 
boy. " And so," with the suspicions of the 
farmers well in mind, '^ you devote your time 
solely to the study of your philosophy ? " 

** Entirely so," replied Abdallah, suavely. 


" It is a great science, and to get even the 
rudiments of it, one must spare neither one's 
self nor time." 

Again came the murmurous sound. Who- 
ever the talkers were, they seemed to be deep 
in some discussion. As Ezra watched he saw 
the habitually gentle look leave the eyes of 
the Oriental ; the pleasant mouth tightened 
and grew hard, the long-fingered brown hands 

" I will ask your pardon," said Abdallah in 
his smooth voice. That he was filled with a 
bitter anger was plain ; but he held himself 
wonderfully in control. He bent his head in 
a salaam of much dignity ; then drawing 
aside some hangings that concealed a door- 
way, he disappeared. 

Ezra settled back more comfortably into 
his easy seat. 

" Master Abdallah evidently does not lead 
the lonely life that my friends of a short time 
ago supposed," said he. " If these are not 
regular inmates of his house, they are persons 
over whom he professes some control ; at least 
his manner said as much." 

There was a huge clock in the room that 


ticked with steady, solemn regularity. Now 
and then a candle sputtered or leaped behind 
its rose-colored shade. But these were the 
only sounds that Ezra heard. 

" Whoever it was, he has silenced them," 
smiled the boy. *' Behind that soft manner, 
our friend has a temper of his own. I saw 
that from the first." 

But another moment proved that Abdallah^s 
was not the only temper in the house. Sud- 
denly the silence was split by a heavy voice, 
thundering : 

** What do you mean, sir? What do you 
mean by addressing me in that manner?" 

A quick, excited murmur followed. Then 
the heavy voice was heard once more. 

" I know we are in his house. I am per- 
fectly aware of it. But that does not deprive 
me of the right to protect myself from im- 

Abdallah's voice was then heard ; but it was 
pitched so low that Ezra could not catch the 
words. After a moment the heavy voice came 

" Of course, sir, that puts a different face upon 
the matter. But you should have warned 


us to moderate our tones. Remember, I am 
Major Buckstone of His Majesty's Artillery, 
and I permit no man to hector me." 

" Hush-h-h-h ! " came another voice. And 
then there was a silence. 

" It seems that Major Buckstone is a person 
quite ready and competent to regulate his own 
affairs," smiled the boy. Then his brows 
puckered thoughtfully as he continued : 
"And the fact that he is of His Majesty's 
Artillery makes him a gentleman of whom I 
should take more than ordinary notice." 

On the whole, as he thought the situation 
over, all the persons concerned were of great 
interest to him and to the cause of the colonies. 
Here was a stranger, an Oriental, who re- 
ceived mysterious communications from 
equally mysterious horsemen. And here, 
also, were British officers making his house a 
place of resort and carrying on conversa- 
tions which would not allow of being over- 

** Decidedly," said Ezra, '' it has an interest- 
ing look. And I am quite pleased that I 
chanced to come this way and overtake Master 
Scarlett as I did." 


His thoughts had run this far when once 
again the mighty voice of Major Buckstone 
was heard. 

" But, sir/^ it cried, " I disagree with you. 
I utterly disagree with you. You may have 
your own ways of doing these things. If so, 
you are perfectly welcome to them. But I am 
a soldier, sir ; an officer in His Majesty's Artil- 
lery, and I am accustomed to do things in my 
own way." 

A soft protest followed, but the thunderous 
major cut it short. 

" If this gentleman has been trusted thus 
far, he can be trusted further," he declared. 
" Why should we remain concealed in the 
houses of our friends ? It is preposterous I " 

A sharp moving about of furniture followed 
as though some one had pushed back a heavy 
chair ; then footsteps were heard, the hang- 
ings parted and a burly, red-faced man entered 
the room. 



Directly behind the red-faced man came 
Abdallah, and a small, weazened-looking 
youth, with the face of a ferret and the covert 
manners of a fox. 

That Abdallah was not pleased with the 
situation was very evident. There was an 
angry light burning in the dark eyes ; and 
though his manner was as suave as ever, his 
voice,' as he spoke, had gained distinctly in 

" This," said he, addressing Ezra, who had 
arisen, ''is a gentleman who insisted upon 
making your acquaintance." 

Major Buckstone laughed loudly, and held 
out his hand to the boy. 

'* And that is the plain truth," spoke he, 
with great heartiness of manner. ** I am a 
bluff soldier, young sir, and I am always de- 
lighted to see those who do their work out in 
the open." 



As he said this, his eyes went quickly to 
Abdallah and the ferret-faced young man. It 
was the latter who made answer. 

'^ In a time like this, Major Buckstone," 
said he, ^* there is work of all sorts to be done 
for His Majesty, the King. You have your 
place — we have ours." 

"And you will pardon me for saying it, 
I^m sure," said Abdallah, also addressing the 
major, ** but your place is decidedly not here." 

The words were softly spoken ; but, for all, 
there was behind them the bitter resentment 
of a man not accustomed to being crossed. 

Major Buckstone drew himself up, and 
saluted formally. 

" Sir," he made reply, " you have compli- 
mented me highly. You are quite right. 
This is not my place. In plain words, a man 
of my quality should never have been de- 
tailed upon such duty." 

The ferret-faced youth, his eyes full of 
alarm, furtively tugged at the speaker^s sleeve ; 
then he whispered some words of caution. 
But the burly soldier shook him off im- 

" I understand you very well, Jason Collyer," 


said he with ponderous disdain. ^* But as I 
have told you many times in this last twenty- 
four hours, I will pay no heed to you. I have 
my own way of conducting my own business, 
and that I will persist in." 

Abdallah made a sign to the ferret-faced 
youth, and the latter fell back from the plain- 
spoken major. Then the two drew together 
at a far corner of the room and consulted in 
whispers. The major turned to Ezra once 

** You have ridden from Cambridge, I under- 
stand," said he. 

" I have," replied the lad, briefly. 

" It has been a week since I passed through 
the rebel lines," said the officer. " I was in 
disguise," in a tone of great disgust. " Much 
rather would I have been in full uniform, 
and at the head of two regiments of hardy 
fellows." Then in another tone, " But what 

"The papers, I should think," and Ezra 
nodded toward Abdallah, ** would tell you 

" Everything of this nature," and the burly 
speaker gestured about him in great con- 


tempt. " But I want to have as little to do 
with spying and ferreting as possible. What 
I want to know is : what has General Gage 
done to break the preposterous condition at 
Boston, that the rebels call a siege ? " 

** Nothing, sir,^' replied the boy. 

The great, red face grew grim, and the 
heavy round head wagged from side to side. 

" British prestige will suffer for this," said 
the major, solemnly. ** It will suffer the 
world over." Then with a tightening of his 
jaws, *' Come, then, tell me what the rebels 
have done. I'll warrant they have been 
active enough." 

Ezra smiled. 

" You are right in that," said he. " Never 
were men more busy before. Not a day goes 
by but that something is done. Earthworks 
are thrown up, companies are enlisted, stores 
are gathered, noted men of the colonial wars 
are offering their swords and their experi- 

This last caused Major Buckstone to grow 
grimmer than ever. 

" And tough fighters, those same rascals 
are," said he. " I've fought shoulder to 


shoulder with them, and I know their 

Then little by little he drew from the boy 
all the details of what had passed, to the 
colonists' credit, since the day that the 
column under Lord Percy had been driven 
pell-mell into Boston. But the boy shrewdly 
neglected to mention anything that would 
show the real and pitiful weakness of the 
colonial force. He did not tell how the 
slackly-disciplined farmers grew tired of the 
dull routine of the siege and left for their 
homes in droves. He did not tell how 
General Ward had written to the Provincial 
Congress declaring that if this was not some- 
how stopped he would soon be left all alone. 
Nor did he say that for sheer want of men, 
Boston Neck was at times almost unguarded 
— Boston Neck, the most important avenue of 
all out of the beleaguered city. 

Major Buckstone listened to the rosy 
story of the colonists' prowess ; his thick 
iron-gray brows were drawn together in a 

** I understand that they have Putnam 
from Connecticut with them, and that tall 


fellow John Stark, of New Hampshire, too. 
Well, they are both nasty fighters ; I've 
seen them in the thick of it many a time. 
The only way to beat such fellows is to 
prevent them from making a fair begin- 

Here Abdallah came forward. His dark 
eyes had grown calm once more ; and there 
was a gentle smile upon his lips. 

" In that, Major Buckstone, you are per- 
fectly right,'' said he. ** Once these men get 
a fair start in the conducting of a war it will 
be most difficult to put them down. And to 
prevent them is our mission." 

The major growled out an angry exclama- 
tion. But Abdallah proceeded smoothly. 

" When the military force has shown itself 
to be incompetent," said he, ** such as we step 
in." He paid no attention to the glowering 
look that the major directed upon him for 
this criticism of the army. " Our work is of 
such a nature " 

The ferret-faced youth thrust out a thin, 
large-knuckled hand and tugged at Abdallah's 

** Our work and its nature is well known 


to us all," remarked he, with a sharp look 
at Ezra. " So there is nothing to be gained 
by talking over it, that I can see." 

Abdallah smiled. 

*' Right," said he, '* though it is somewhat 
late in the evening for us to think of becom- 
ing secretive. Major Buckstone has seen fit 
to " 

" We have been all over that, also," said 
the major, brusquely. '* As I have said be- 
fore, this lad has been entrusted with other 
and perhaps cleaner business of the King than 
this. And I can see no harm in speaking 
openly before him." 

** You are in command," said Abdallah, 
smilingly. *' And I defer to you in every- 

" If you had been bred to the artillery, you 
would have done that in the first place," re- 
plied Major Buckstone, dryly. ** And, now, 
since that rather important point is settled, let 
us get to our affairs." 

The seal upon the packet of papers brought 
by Ezra was now broken and the three bent 
over them intently. Ezra once more seated 
himself, watching them keenly, for he was 


struck by the great difference in their appear- 

Major Buckstone was huge of limb and 
body ; his great red face shone with perspira- 
tion ; despite his rather uncouth farmer's 
dress, he looked every inch a British officer of 
the old school. 

Abdallah's commanding height would have 
marked him almost anywhere as a person of 
unusual parts ; and his queer robe-like gar- 
ment, his bald dome and his singular dark 
eyes only accentuated this. 

And the furtive-mannered Jason Colly er 
came in for his fair share of the boy's atten- 
tion. There was a peculiar something in the 
sharp face and the light eyes that caused Ezra 
to class him as dangerous. 

" Even, perhaps, more dangerous than Ab- 
dallah himself,'' thought the boy. '^ He is of 
the kind that never trusts any one and would 
halt at nothing to gain its ends." 

It did not take many minutes for these 
strangely-contrasted coworkers to master the 
contents of the documents. Then Major 
Buckstone drew an ink-pot toward him at a 
table and took up a broad-nibbed quill pen. 


" A line will suffice," said he to the others. 
*' General Gage will grasp the situation in- 
stantly. A single dash upon Boston Neck of 
a dark night will do the work. If I were only 
there with my artillery, I would soon have it 
as wide open as " 

" Hsh-h ! " warned Jason Collyer again. 
And once more he threw a sharp, distrustful 
look at Ezra. 

With a snort of contempt the bluff soldier 
dipped the broad-nibbed pen deep into the 
ink-pot ; then he dashed off some heavy lines 
of writing, folded the paper and affixed a seal. 

" There," said he, rising, " that will answer." 
He handed the message to Ezra and continued, 
" Is your horse fresh enough to mount at once ? " 
• Ezra knew that the beast was not ; but then 
he had seen and heard all that was necessary 
and had no desire to linger in the house of 

" He will do until I reach my first stop," 
said he. 

" Good," spoke the major as he watched the 
lad button the message tightly up in his 
breast pocket. " Make all haste." 

** You may depend upon me to do so," re- 


turned Ezra evenly. " But first you must tell 
me where I am to go? '- 

Amazement was written large upon the sol- 
dier's broad, red face at this. His eyes went 
to Abdallah ; and the latter smiled easily. 

*' It is our way of conducting things/' said 
he. *' We never allow our right hands to 
know what our left hands are doing.'* Then 
turning to Ezra, he went on, "Return by 
way of Charlestown. Just outeide of that 
village, near an elevation called Bunker Hillj 
there is a small place of resort known as the 
Indian's Head.' '? 
' " I can find it," said Ezra. 

" Excellent ! " Abdallah smiled pleasantly: 
" At the * Indian's Head ' you will ask for Mr. 
Pennington. And when he is pointed out to 
you — by the landlord, mind you — deliver the 
message to him." 

" Very well," said Ezra. 

" You understand perfectly ? " inquired 
Jason Collyer. 

"Perfectly," replied Ezra, briefly. Then 
turning to the others he continued, " If that 
is all you have to say to me, I will be oflf at 


"That is all," said Major Buckstone ; and 
Abdallah smiled and inclined his hairless 

They held candles for him as he went out, 
for night had come on. 

" Ride carefully," warned Major Buckstone. 
" It will be a dark night." 

" I am used to it," said the boy, as he un- 
fastened the tall bay and climbed into the 
saddle. " And then, this nag of mine has eyes 
like an owl." 

And so, with a shake of the rein and a wave 
of the hand to the three, the young patriot 
was off along the dark road, going by the way 
he had come. 



Once he had gotten the candle-light well 
out of his eyes, Ezra found that the darkness 
was not quite as thick as he had supposed. 

" All of which suits my purpose very well," 
he told himself, well pleased. 

He had no idea of proceeding any great 
distance in the direction in which he was 
heading. He had promised to meet Ben 
Cooper at the place where the church tower 
reared itself above the tree-tops toward 
Chelmsford ; and this he determined to do. 

" If I fail to keep my promise, Ben will 
begin to imagine all sorts of things," mused 
Ezra. " And, also. 111 need to talk over this 
matter with him before I do anything." 

He rode along until his horse^s hoofs 
sounded hollowly upon the timbers of the 

**The sound will no doubt reach the 


house," he muttered, *' and perhaps they will 
be listening for it/* 

In the middle of the bridge he wheeled his 
steed and slowly recrossed ; then dismounting 
he led the animal into the woods and struck 
out upon a course parallel with the road. 
The way was much darker here because of 
the overhang of the trees ; he was compelled 
to proceed with the utmost care in order to 
avoid accidents. 

** I said you had eyes like an owl, old fel- 
low," said he to the bay. " Now prove that I 
did not overpraise you ; for a misstep means, 
perhaps, a broken leg." 

And the horse, as though in answer, stepped 
gingerly along, his mane brushing Ezra's 
shoulder, and his nose pointed toward the 
ground. In a short time they arrived oppo- 
site the house of Abdallah ; the mastiffs must 
either have got scent of, or heard them. At 
any rate they broke into a tremendous bark- 

Now Ezra spoke to the bay and it stopped. 
His hand sought the long pistol in the holster 
and his eyes were fixed upon the dark, silent 
house across the road. 


Then the door opened and a flare of light 
shot out upon the neglected garden. Abdal- 
lah appeared in the doorway, and behind 
him was Jason CoUyer with a shaded candle 
in his hand. 

The Oriental spoke sharply to the clamor- 
ing brutes and they instantly subsided. 
Some words passed between the two men, and 
then both went in ; and the door was closed 
and all was darkness and stillness once more. 

Ezra waited a while ; then, as the dogs ap- 
peared to be silenced for good, he spoke to 
the horse and once more started on. Almost 
immediately the dogs recommenced their 
barking and once more the boy brought the 
bay to a halt. With his hand upon the pistol 
he watched the house, expecting the door to 
open. But this time it did not, and the 
mastiffs made the night echo with their up- 

" It would seem that they are now tied 
up," said Ezra after a little. ** It is a lucky 
thing for me that Abdallah was so minded. 
Otherwise I would have had them at my 
throat before this." 

Again he spoke to the horse and they pro- 


ceeded upon their way through the trees. 
The mastiffs grew all but frantic in their rav- 
ings ; but still no sign came from the house. 

** I suppose the owners of such beasts grow 
accustomed to their noise in time," thought 
the lad. " And in that I am fortunate, too ; 
for if Abdallah and his friends had taken it 
into their heads to make a search, they must 
have surely found me." 

About a hundred yards beyond the house 
he ventured into the road. As this was soft 
and he walked the horse, no sound of hoofs 
was heard. It was a good half mile farther 
on that he got into the saddle, and gathered 
up the reins with a breath of satisfaction. 

" Now for the hamlet with the church 
tower," he said, and he touched the bay with 
the spur and went loping down the dark 

There were stars in the sky, but no moon ; 
a faint sheen filtered through to the earth, 
and as the road was of a light-colored soil, 
the boy could trace it faintly as it stretched 
on ahead of him. From among the trees 
that still continued to line the way, there 
came the mysterious shadows and sounds of 


the night ; but Ezra Prentiss was not a lad to 
give such things much heed, but went plod- 
ding steadily on, his eyes bent keenly ahead, 
his whole attention given to making his des- 
tination in as short a time as possible. 

A number of times he fancied that he 
caught dull, indefinite sounds in his rear ; in- 
deed, he once drew in his horse and listened. 
But as nothing more followed, he credited the 
noises to the whispering voice of the night, 
and so rode on. 

At length he came to a place where the 
timber had been cleared away ; fences were 
erected and the ground broken by the plow. 
Oif to the left was a small group of houses, 
and above them, strongly marked against the 
background of stars, was the church tower 
that he had pointed out to Ben. 

"Plowed ground is slow traveling," he 
said to himself as he slipped from the saddle, 
" but as I don't know the roads hereabouts, 
it's the best I can do." 

But as luck would have it, he found a 
place in the fence where the rails could be 

"A gate," said the boy, well pleased. 


" Well, that can mean only one thing ; there's 
a path hereabouts, somewhere." 

He mounted once more and gave the horse 
its head. In a moment it had picked out the 
path, invisible to Ezra, and went plodding 
along with lowered head. This led across 
some half dozen fields ; at each fence Ezra 
was forced to get down and lower the bars. 
At length he found himself in the midst of 
what seemed a level green. There were scat- 
tered houses all about, their windows cheer- 
fully lighted ; the doors of some of them stood 
open, for the night was not unpleasant. 

" And there is my old acquaintance, the 
church," said Ezra, as he noted a large lan- 
tern swinging over a doorway. ** And judg- 
ing from the people passing in, there is a 
service going forward." 

He led his horse across the green and 
finally encountered a man bearing a lantern. 

'' I ask your pardon, sir," said the boy, 
'^ but is there any place of public entertain- 
ment in this village? " 

" There is," replied the man with the light. 
" Directly before you — where you see the door 
standing open — is the ' Plow and Harrow.' " 


*' I thank you," said Ezra. 

He made his way to the place indicated. 
It was a two-storied, clean-looking place with 
a sanded floor, polished oaken tables and a 
stout, white-aproned landlord. 

A thin man, with a straw in his mouth, 
took the horse, and Ezra entered the inn. 
At once his eye fell upon Ben Cooper, seated 
at a table, with a rasher of bacon and a dish 
of eggs before him. 

" Hello,'^ said Ben, pausing in his attack 
on the provisions. " You've got here at last, 
have you? I'd almost given up hope of you 
for the night, and so ordered my supper." 

" And very good it looks," said Ezra, re- 
garding hungrily the bacon, the eggs, the 
huge white loaf and the great square of 
golden butter. 

The stout landlord approached, wiping his 
hands upon his apron. He smiled in a 
pleased fashion at Ezra's words. 

" Can I bring you some, young gentle- 
man ? " asked he, good-humoredly. " The 
bacon is most excellent. It has just the faint- 
est tang of the smoke in it, and that adds 
vastly to its flavor. The eggs are fresh laid ; 


the bread is our own baking, and the butter 
of this countryside is the best in all the 
colony, perhaps." 

" How could I sav no, after that ? '' lau^rhed 
Ezra. " As you put it, it is really fascinating. 
But first I'll have some water, a towel and 

In a little while, freshened up with these 
latter articles, he was seated opposite Ben, 
with the wholesome food before him and do- 
ing it the justice that its excellent qualities 

'* I don't know how you found it," said 
Ben, as their meal proceeded, '' but the people 
along the road I took are heart and soul with 
the colony. Almost everywhere, I heard of 
men settling their affairs that they might be 
off to the army." 

"That's good news," said Ezra. " Settling 
their affairs, eh ? Very likely, then, what I 
heard General Ward say about a week ago is 
pretty close to the truth. Speaking of the 
many desertions, he said that very likely they 
were caused by the men having been called 
away from home at a moment's notice to re- 
pulse the Lexington column. No one had 


time to make preparations ; some left their 
families without even a good-bye, others were 
known to have mounted their plow horses, 
leaving the plows in the field." 

*' The circulars, which I read and distributed, 
seemed to touch the right spot," said Ben 
Cooper. ** The people seemed to realize that if 
they let the army under Gage get the better 
of them now, their liberties would be gone 
forever. All are patriots in this section." 

Ezra made no answer to this, but went on 
with his supper. There was an expression 
upon his face, however, that caught Ben^s at- 
tention ; the latter gazed curiously at his friend 
for a moment and then asked : 

"What is it? Come now, don't deny that 
you've got news of some sort. When you take 
on that look, I'm sure that something has hap- 

Ezra smiled. 

"This time," said he, "you are right. 
Something has happened." He leaned across 
the table and lowered his voice. " You say 
that all in this section are patriots. But I 
have found a nest of British spies right in the 
heart of it." 


Ben stared at him. 

** There are Tories everywhere," said he, at 

** I am not speaking of Tories," said Ezra, 
" but of what looks like a regularly organized 
system of British espionage." 

Then he related his experiences to Ben, who 
sat in round-eyed wonder, drinking in the 
story. When he had finished there was a long 
silence ; then Ben said : 

" It seems to be a sort of place of call for 
them, with an officer of the British service in 
command ? " 

Ezra nodded. 

" But," continued Ben, " it all seems very 
queer to me. Why is such a strange person as 
you describe this Abdallah to be concerned in 
it ? And why is a place, so out of the way as 
that one, selected as a headquarters ? " 

" To be out of the way, must be an advan- 
tage in a matter of their kind," smiled Ezra. 

** No doubt. But that is not just what I 
mean. This adventurer, Gilbert Scarlett, for 
example, brings a packet of papers from Cam- 
bridge. They are read upon your delivering 
them ; and you are sent with an answer to a 


gentleman at a place near Charlestown. Why 
is that ? It would have been much simpler 
and less inconvenient to have sent the mes- 
sage to the * Indian's Head ' in the first place." 

Again Ezra nodded. 

" I get your point/' he said. " And I have 
been thinking over the same thing ever since 
I left Abdallah's house." 

Ben glanced quickly at his friend ; there 
was that in his tone that attracted his attention. 

" And you have made up your mind to 
something, I know," said he. 

" Not altogether. But I have figured out 
some possibilities. This spy system, while 
under the supervision of a British officer, has 
been organized by Abdallah. He was im- 
ported by Gage for just this purpose. It is 
possible that it is his profession. Experience 
has probably taught him to isolate himself. 
But his spies, who are perhaps unknown to 
each other, are scattered all about. When 
they have anything to report, they send a 
rider who can be trusted ; and he in turn car- 
ries the answer, if one is called for, to a per- 
son who stands close to Gage and his counsel- 


Ben rapped the oaken table smartly with 
his knuckles by way of applause. 

" Good I *' cried he. " That is just the way 
of it I '* He looked at his friend in high ad- 
miration for a moment. " And it is very 
fortunate that you stumbled across it. Yes," 
thoughtfully, as he renewed his inroads on the 
bacon, " Abdallah is the chief spy, as you 
think. His little tilts with Major Buckstone 
show that plainly enough." 

They discussed the matter for a long time, 
over the remnants of their meal. The fact 
that the British had discovered the practically 
unguarded condition of Boston Neck worried 
the boys not a little. One swift rush of the 
trained regiments of the King might undo all 
the good that had been accomplished. They 
spoke in low voices, for the landlord, and 
now and then some other of the inn people, 
were constantly about ; at length some patrons 
entered and took seats at no great distance. 

Safe in a hamlet where practically all were 
united in hatred of the laws of Parliament, 
the boys gave little heed to those who came 
or went. The newcomers ordered elaborately 
of the fare of the " Plow and Harrow " ; the 


host, in high good humor, bustled about giv- 
ing them his best attention. 

** Your horses, gentlemen," said he, " should 
be rubbed down and unsaddled. It will do 
them much good.*' 

" Leave them as they are," said one of the 
strangers ; ** we may require them at " 

The thin hand of one of his fellows tugged at 
his sleeve. 

" Sh-h-h ! " whispered the owner of the hand, 

The first speaker laughed. 

" But you are right," admitted he, with 
great candor. " It is a well established fault 
of mine that I talk too much." 

It so chanced that Ben Cooper sat facing the 
strangers. He caught the landlord's words 
and the answer that followed. He also heard 
the warning " Sh-h-h I " and saw the tug at 
the speaker's sleeve. 

Lowering his voice, he described the scene 
to Ezra. 

*' Why," said the latter, " there is something 
familiar about that." 

** Just what I thought," agreed Ben. " The 
warning reminds me a great deal of what you 


have just told me of your acquaintance Jason 

" I wonder/^ said Ezra, " could it, by any 
chance, be he?" 

** If it is, he has followed you," replied Ben. 

As Ezra was opposite his friend, his back 
was to the newcomers ; but some little dis- 
tance away there was a broad framed mirror, 
and by sitting in a certain way he discovered 
that he could get a very good view of them, 

There were four in the party and all were 
attired in the soiled dress of farm laborers. 
However, three of them bore themselves in a 
swaggering manner much out of keeping with 
their apparent station. And all of them wore 
pistols belted at their waists. The fourth 
man, and much the smaller, sat in a shadow 
and for a time Ezra could not make him out. 
However, he finally turned his head to reply 
to a remark of one of his companions and his 
countenance was fairly reflected in the glass. 
There was no mistaking the furtive eyes and 
ferret features. It was Jason Collyer. 

When the lad made this discovery known 
to Ben, the latter became greatly excited. 


** He's followed you. You thought he sus- 
pected you all along, and you were right." 

'* And who, I wonder, are these others that 
he has brought with him ? " said Ezra, regard- 
ing the reflections in the glass with much in- 
terest. " They look like tall, active fellows, 
and of a stamp that would not hesitate at a 
trifle like a man's life." 

** Would they dare, do you think, attack us 

*' Why not ? Jason Collyer has learned 
that I did not ride in the direction of Charles- 
town. He probably suspected my presence 
among the trees opposite Abdallah's house 
when they came out and then made a quiet 
investigation later. That is why no one an- 
swered the second cry of the mastiffs. When 
he learned positively that I was not what I 
seemed, he gathered this small, but very com- 
petent-looking force and made after me. In his 
eyes I am a dangerous person ; and in days like 
these, dangerous persons are not treated very 
gently, as you know." 

" True enough," replied Ben, his round face 
seeming to grow rounder as he examined the 
strangers. " But, still, there is so much 


danger of a hue and cry being started in a 
place like this." 

*' They have not overlooked that," Ezra told 
him quietly. ** The fact that they desired the 
landlord to leave their horses ready for mount- 
ing proves that." 

** Well, what do you think we^d better do ? " 
asked Ben, a combative expression coming 
into his face. 

" Nothing as yet. We must first see what 
they intend doing, and act accordingly." 

They had no great while to wait, for one of 
the men arose and came toward their table. 
He leaned familiarly upon it, gazing into each 
of their faces in turn. He was a hard-featured 
man with a great thatch of reddish hair ; and 
a wide, mocking sort of grin displayed a set of 
strong, yellow teeth.' 

" I give you good-evening," said he, the 
grin growing wider. 

" Good-evening to you," replied Ezra, with 
great coolness. 

The man examined them once more. Then 
he continued : 

" You are strangers hereabouts, I take 


Ezra leaned back and regarded the speaker 
in turn. 

*' And, sir/' said he, " I'd take the same of 

The mocking grin lost a little of its tone ; 
and a flush came into the coarse, heavy- 
featured face. 

" Hah I " said the man. ** You are very 
apt in your answers, I see." 

'' It's a habit that's like to grow upon one 
after a little experience with the world," 
answered Ezra, evenly. 

" You are very young to have had much 
experience of any sort," spoke the man. He 
pushed back the platters and cups in a most 
offensive way and seated himself upon a corner 
of the table. 

" Age does not always bring experience, 
any more than it brings manners," returned 
Ezra, pointedly. 

The grin disappeared entirely ; two points 
of anger showed in the man's eyes. 

" You grow more and more apt in your 
sayings," spoke he. Then in a jeering way : 
'* I have no doubt but that you think yourself 
a smart and proper youth, indeed." 


** And you may also have no doubt, sir/* 
replied the boy, '' that there are many things 
that pass through your mind that give me 
very little concern." 

A subdued burst of laughter came from the 
man's comrades ; his face darkened and he 
rose up from the table, his hands clenched. 
What he would have done Ezra never knew ; 
just then the lad caught the reflection of 
Jason CoUyer in the mirror ; he was beckon- 
ing the man away. And, with a shrug of 
the shoulders and a snap of his strong jaws, 
he obeyed. 

" They aim to fasten a quarrel upon us,'* 
breathed Ben. *' Have you your pistol ? " 

" No," replied Ezra. " It is in my 

" And mine," said Ben. *' I had no idea 
that we'd ever need them here." 

Ben was ready enough when left to him- 
self; but when accompanied by Ezra, usually 
left the planning of any important step to 
him. And now, as he looked at him, expect- 
ing some ready ruse that would enable them 
to evade danger, he was not disappointed. 
Ezra's face was confident and unruffled. In- 


deed, there was a humorous twinkle in his 
eyes, as he said : 

" I want you to make some sort of an ex- 
cuse to go outside. It must be a good one or 
they will prevent your going. When you 
get there, slip off the bridles of two of their 
horses and loosen their saddle girths. Do you 
understand ? " 

*^ Perfectly,'^ answered Ben. 

The four men were whispering together 
and casting undisguisedly hostile glances at 
the boys. The landlord and some of the inn's 
people who lingered about noticed this, and 
began to exhibit concern. 

Ben Cooper arose with much self-posses- 

"Landlord," said he, "what is our bill? 
Your inn is a fairly good one, but much 
too uncomfortable for persons who desire to 
be unmolested." 

The stout host mentioned the sum, and 
Ben put a hand in his pocket. A look of 
dismay came into his face, and turning 
quickly to Ezra he said : 

" I'll have to see to my saddle-bags. I'm 
growing very careless of late." 


He hastily crossed to the door, and went 
out. The hard-faced man rose and went to 
a window overlooking the space before the 
inn ; he stood there with his back turned to 
those in the room, his whole attitude indica- 
tive of watchfulness. 

*' That won't do,*' said Ezra to himself. 
'* If my plan is to come to anything he must 
not stand there.'' 

He was casting about in his mind for a 
means of drawing the man's attention from 
Ben, when Jason Collyer spoke to the host. 

** Landlord, I take it that you are not 
troubled a great deal with Tories in these 

" No, gentlemen," replied the stout man 
fervently, " I am thankful to say that we are 
not. Those who were of that way of think- 
ing went their way into Boston ; you see, it 
was made unpleasant for them hereabouts. 
If they loved Gage and his army so well, we 
thought it better that they should be there 
where they could see them every day." 

'* And quite right," spoke Jason Collyer. 
Ezra noticed that he no longer took the 
trouble to keep in the background. At first 


he had done so, but now, apparently, his 
plans had changed. " Quite right," repeated 
Jason Collyer. ^* Such folks are most danger- 
ous, and scarcely of the kind that honest folk 
care to mingle with." 

From indications, the subject of Tories was 
one that had great interest for the stout host 
of the " Plow and Harrow." He puffed out his 
cheeks and smoothed the white apron carefully. 

" Preserve me from any such I " said he. 
" They come sneaking into one's house, 
prying and asking questions. And all the 
time they have it in their hearts to send one 
to the gallows. They should be dealt with 
hardly I " 

" They are a poisonous tribe," said Jason 
Collyer. He darted a covert look at Ezra as 
he said this, and the boy noted a smile of 
satisfaction upon his thin lips. Like an in- 
spiration, the other's intention flashed upon 
the boy. 

*' He's sounded the landlord upon this 
subject with one thought in his mind," Ezra 
told himself. " He'll tell him that Ben and 
I are Tories ; and so these friends of his will be 
left to work their wills with us." 


Ezra was not a lad to sit and ponder while 
something to his injury was going forward. 
With the solution of the other's plan, came a 
counterplot with which he hoped to balk it. 

*' If you will pardon me, sir," spoke he, 
leaning forward, his elbows upon the table, 
" I would like to agree with you in what you 
have said. The greatest enemies of the 
colonies are those who should naturally be at 
one with us — the Tories." 

" Truly spoken, young gentleman," beamed 
the landlord, *' and very well spoken too." 

Jason Collyer was about to say something, 
but Ezra calmly waved him down, riveting 
the host's attention with a look. 

" And, as you say, sir," with a little bow, 
" they intrude themselves into one's very house 
with the basest of intentions against one's 
peace. And they come when least expected, 
also in many guises." 

He looked coolly toward the man who still 
stood watching from the window, and pro- 
ceeded, slightly lifting his voice : 

*' It is all but impossible to detect them in 
time. One seldom suspects them. For ex- 
ample," and he gestured toward the man at 


the window, ** that gentleman over there, for 
all we know, may be a Tory." 

Ezra knew perfectly well that the next few 
moments must precipitate a struggle. In 
order that Ben might have an opportunity to 
do his work, the watcher at the window must 
relax his attention. 

The raised voice and the boy's bold insinua- 
tion had the effect which he intended. In- 
stantly the man turned from the window, a 
snarl upon his lips ; he approached Ezra 

" So, my lad, I hear from you again," spoke 
he, gratingly. " Perhaps if you knew me 
better, you would not be so ready with your 

Ezra regarded him quietly. That his ruse 
had succeeded greatly delighted the young 
patriot ; but he concealed his pleasure under a 
mask of indifference. 

" As you suggest," replied he, ** if I knew 
you better, I might hesitate in speaking to 
you." He was looking the man coolly in the 
eye ; it would take a practiced hand like Ben 
Cooper's but a moment to strip off a brace of 
bridles, and he did not now care what action 


the red-haired man might take. So he pro- 
ceeded with even greater nonchalance than 
before : 

" And it is also possible that, in the same 
ease, I might go to even greater lengths than 
I have/* 

For an instant the man glared at the boy as 
though dazed by his boldness. Then he leaped 
toward him in a fury. 

But Ezra was prepared for the attack. Like 
a flash he was upon his feet ; the heavy oaken 
table fell, with a crash of crockery, before the 
man ; unable to stay himself, he w^ent sprawl- 
ing over it. Ezra's quick eye had noted the 
concerted action of the man's friends at the 
moment of the attack. All had leaped up, 
their hands fingering the locks of their pistols. 

But the boy gave them no time to think 
after the fall of the table. With a series of 
soft-footed bounds he reached the window. 
Placing his hands upon the sill, he vaulted 
out into the night, and ran toward a group of 
horses, at no great distance from the door. 

" This way," cried Ben Cooper. In another 
moment the boys were in the saddle and tear- 
ing madly away from the " Plow and Harrow." 


shows how ezra adventured toward the 
" Indian's head '* 

As Ezra Prentiss and Ben Cooper dashed 
away from the *' Plow and Harrow/' Jason 
Collyer and his comrades flung themselves 
with loud cries out of the door. A moment 
later these cries were redoubled. 

" They've found their chargers without 
bridles," said Ben. ** And perhaps more than 
one of them has got a fall from a twisting 
saddle. I'm sorry for the landlord ; but I'll 
contrive to pay him later." 

They drew rein and sat their horses, look- 
ing back toward the inn. The stout landlord 
was plain in the doorway, and visibly much 
distressed ; hostlers and others appeared with 
lights ; riderless horses were prancing and snort- 
ing about with angry men pursuing them. 

*' How did you come to get out our own 
nags ? " asked Ezra, who had recognized the 
familiar gait of his tall bay horse at once. 

" When that fellow came to the window, I 


thought I'd not have the chance to do what 
you suggested," answered Ben. '^ So I went 
to the barn, and by good luck found that our 
mounts had not been unsaddled. When I 
led them out, taking care to keep in the 
shadow, I noted the man gone from the win- 
dow. So I out with my knife and cut the 
bridles of my friends, gave each girth a slash, 
and there they were, as neat as you please." 

** I think we'd better make the best of our 
way to Chelmsford," suggested Ezra, after a 
time spent in watching the dim confusion be- 
fore the inn. " And it would be better, also, 
that we keep our pistols ready to hand, for 
Master Jason CoUyer seems a person of some 

The road was good and within an hour 
they had reached Chelmsford, where they 
had the good fortune to fall in with others 
upon the same errand as themselves. 

" That means," said Ben, as they stretched 
themselves contentedly between the cool 
sheets at a cool, clean little inn, a short time 
after, " that this riding about is over and 
done. Our section has been covered with the 
circulars, and we can return to Cambridge." 


" And I'm glad of it/' yawned Ezra. 
" There promise to be certain matters of in- 
terest before Boston at no distant time, and I, 
for one, want to see the whole thing." 

Next morning Ezra gathered the riders of 
the Committee of Safety together, and, with 
their number added to by a half dozen young 
farmers, they made a descent upon the house 
of Abdallah. 

But they were too late. The place was in 
ashes ; not a sign or trace of any one was to 
be found. 

*' I suppose Jason CoUyer lost no time in 
making his report after the affair at the 
' Plow and Harrow,' " said Ezra to Ben, after 
they had left the others and were making 
their steady way toward Bedford. ** And 
now, I suppose, an alarm will be sent out, and 
this Mr. Pennington, whoever he may be, 
will take care not to present himself at the 
' Indian's Head ' to receive messages of any 

From Bedford they took the road to Lex- 
ington, and late in the afternoon entered the 
town of Cambridge. At once they sought out 
Dr. Warren, as the leading spirit of the Com- 


mittee of Safety, and made him acquainted 
with all that had occurred. 

The great patriot knit his brows. 

" It has a bad look," said he. " The fact 
that our strength is known and perhaps our 
every move, is not calculated to give us much 
satisfaction. But I will see Colonel Prescott 
in the matter, also Generals Ward and Put- 
nam. And in the meantime," placing a hand 
upon the boys' shoulders, his kind, grave face 
alight, " let me tell you that you have both 
done well. If all who professed the cause 
did half so well, we would have very little to 
fear from any source." 

Upon the beginning of the enlistment, 
which commenced after the Lexington fight, 
both Ezra and Ben had promptly put their 
names to the roll of Prescott's regiment, as 
did Ezra's twin brother, George, and Ben's 
stalwart, ready-handed cousin from the Wy- 
oming wilderness, Nat Brewster. But they 
had all four been detailed upon special duty 
for the Committee of Safety, and so lodged at 
a house at no great distance from Dr. War- 

The candles were lighted when Ben and 


Ezra reached their lodging. George and Nat 
sat at a table playing at draughts. Both 
leaped up at the sight of the newcomers. 

'' Something told us that you would get 
back this evening," cried George, as they 
shook hands all around. 

^* And we asked Mrs. Parslow, as a special 
favor, to delay supper," spoke Nat Brewster. 

'' That was thoughtful enough, eh, Ben ? " 
laughed Ezra. '* And to show how we appre- 
ciate it," to Nat, " we'll try to do it full jus- 

While Mrs. Parslow, a good-humored, 
elderly w^oman, was bringing in the smoking 
dishes, the four lads related their experiences. 
George and Nat had ridden together upon the 
same mission as the other two, but had gone 
in the direction of Milton and Braintree. 

" And the people listened to the Com- 
mittee's warnings with their hearts in their 
eyes," said Nat Brewster. " Let there be 
only action, and General Ward will not want 
for men." 

*' But Massachusetts cannot be expected to 
do it all," said Ben. " The other colonies 
must bear their share of the burden." 


" They will, never fear," said Ezra. ** Only 
this afternoon I heard of a company of rifle- 
men being recruited as far south as Virginia. 
Then there are the Connecticut men and 
those from New Hampshire. And don't for- 
get that these last bring leaders with them. 
The British themselves acknowledge the 
ability of Putnam, Stark and Greene.'' 

Ezra and George sat side by side and Mrs. 
Parslow looked bewilderedly at them. 

"One of you likes griddle-cakes with honey,' 
she said, " but for the life of me I can't tell 
which of you it is." 

** It's George," spoke Ben Cooper, with a 

** And which is George ? " asked the good 
woman, looking from one to the other. 

*' Here he is," responded George, reaching 
for the much-prized griddle-cakes. " I'll 
never fail to acknowledge myself for these, 
Mrs. Parslow ; and I've never seen any one 
that made them like you." 

Mrs. Parslow looked vastly gratified. 

*' I'm sure I'm glad to please you," she said. 
'^ But how your mother ever told you two 
apart, I'll never be able to say." 


The Prentiss brothers had been a puzzle and 
a delight to her ever since the four came to 
lodge with her. Nat Brewster, with his grave, 
competent ways and manly face of character, 
she had taken to at once ; and the chubby 
face of Ben Cooper, his merry eye and ready 
laugh, had always pleased her. But the twins 
were a perpetual bewilderment and mystery 
to her, as indeed they might be to many with 
greater observation and sharper eyes than she. 

After supper George and Ben got out the 
draughts, while Ezra and Nat drew their 
chairs together and discussed the features of 
the situation as each saw it. 

" I heard a long talk between Dr. Warren 
and Colonel Prescott, only to-day," said Nat. 
" I had come to make report of our work and 
the two were deeply engaged with each other. 
It would seem that each has a great re- 
spect for General Ward, but no large idea of 
his military ability." 

" It requires, I should say, a man of much 
power to grasp things and bring them into a 
state of order," said Ezra. " The Congress at 
Philadelphia is, I believe, to name a com- 
mander-in-chief for the colonial army ; and 


let us hope that their choice will be one that 
will bring the best results for the cause." 

** He will have no great soldier to fight in 
Gage/' spoke Nat, ** if the opinions of the ex- 
perienced Englishman, Charles Lee, and our 
own General Putnam, have any weight. I 
have heard it said that Lee has repeatedly de- 
clared that Gage is woefully incompetent ; 
and that his every move has been a blunder 
since the first gun was fired." 

*' At any rate," said Ezra, " he has permitted 
General Ward to compass him about. He is 
as tightly boxed up as a tame badger." 

''If it were not that the sea is open to him, 
we'd starve him out in a very little while. 
However, King George will see to it that his 
servants do not go hungry." 

'' But it will be salt beef and hardtack that 
will keep them from it. The colonial lines 
and earthworks so hedge them in that they'll 
never get a scrap of fresh meat or measure of 

'' But what of our own people who are 
closed up in the town along with the enemy ? " 
questioned Nat, gravely. '' If the British are 
in want of palatable things, can we be sure 


that the townspeople have sufficient food of 
any sort ? " 

" You're right," said Ezra, thoughtfully. 
He leaned his head upon his hands and stared 
at the floor. Nat watched him for some time 
and then said : 

" Your grandfather is not in Cambridge ? " 

" No," replied Ezra, '' in Boston." 

There was another pause ; then Nat spoke : 

** But, then, I don't think you need trouble 

for him." He placed a hand on Ezra's 

shoulder. ** Forgive me for saying it, but 

your grandfather will not be likely to come to 


*^ Not from the British, no," Ezra^s voice 
was bitter and low. " But from the patriot 
people of Boston, yes." He paused a moment 
and looked into the frank, friendly face of the 
youth from Wyoming. ** You understand 
how it is with me. And there are many like 
me. In the war that has just begun, there 
will be countless families divided like mine 
has been." 

" Take heart," said Nat Brewster. " One 
can hardly expect an old man, and one born 
on British soil in the bargain, to be other than 


a friend to the King. There are some who 
have greater cause for regret than you. They 
say that the New Hampshire Colonel Stark's 
very brother has gone over to the British.^' 

" It is not altogether my grandfather's being 
an enemy to the colonies that troubles me," 
said Ezra. " He is a very old man and can 
do no great harm. But he has made himself 
hated by the people. And if they are, by any 
chance, starving in Boston, there will one day 
come an outbreak ; and it is not against the 
soldiery that vengeance will be directed. It 
will be against such bitter-spoken partisans as 
Seth Prentiss." 

Nat nodded. 

*' That is usually the way," he said. '* Such 
a thing is greatly to be feared ; but in this 
case it will hardly go so far. I have heard 
that there is a plan afoot to permit those who 
so desire to leave Boston. If this is carried 
out, it will help matters wonderfully." 

But, though Ezra drew some small measure 
of hope from this suggestion, he was still 
vaguely troubled. Somehow, the thought of 
his grandfather kept recurring to him. He 
seemed filled with an indefinite fear concern- 


ing him ; it was as though the future held 
something unpleasant in store. As this state 
of mind continued, he finally arose and bid 
his friends good-night with a feeling of great 
depression. He had entered his room and 
lighted a candle when he heard a low knock 
upon the door. Opening it he saw his brother. 

George entered and closed the door behind 

" I have been wanting to say something to 
you all evening,'* said he, " but could not get 
the opportunity." 

He drummed with his fingers upon the 
back of a chair, and the other saw a troubled 
look in his eyes. 

"What is it?" asked Ezra. 

" It's about this man Pennington," replied 
George. " And also about the one you call 

Ezra regarded him steadily. 

" What do you know of them ? " he asked. 

George, from the time of their father's death, 
had made his home with their Tory grand- 
father. In a measure he had shared the old 
man's views. But at the Lexington fight, all 
this changed, and now he was the stoutest 


patriot of them all. Ezra had scarcely seen 
his grandfather in years ; for the boy's open 
advocacy of the cause of liberty had deeply 
incensed the old man against him. 

" I don't know a great deal about them," 
answered George. *' I wish I did. It might 
save us something. Pennington is a King's 
man, of course. He and grandfather have 
been intimate — I might say, very intimate. I 
noticed even long ago that they whispered a 
great deal in corners and held many consulta- 
tions in the library with the doors carefully 

Ezra pursed up his mouth and frowned. 

*' 1 see," was all he said. 

" Pennington came and went a great deal. 
Sometimes I would not see him for weeks. 
Then, again, he'd be at the house almost con- 
stantly. Now and then he'd bring a stranger. 
That is how I came to see Abdallah." 

^' Ah." 

'' They came late one night, in the midst of 
a storm. There was a great banging of doors 
and lifting of voices. I had gone to bed some 
time before ; but the noise was so unusual that 
I got up again, dressed and came down. The 


library door stood open, and I saw grand- 
father, Mr. Pennington, Abdallah and General 

" Did you by any chance hear what was 
said ? " 

" Not much. But I learned that grand- 
father had been expecting Abdallah for 
months. The man had just arrived that night 
in a brig from San Domingo. I also drew 
from what I heard that grandfather desired 
him to perform some work of great value. 
But just what its nature was, I did not know 
until to-night." 

*' So grandfather is intimately concerned in 
the affair," said Ezra. " Do you know, some- 
how I felt that some such condition existed. 
Ben Cooper says he can often feel things com- 
ing ; and in this case, at any rate, it's been so 
with me." 

He paused a moment, then he resumed : 

** Grandfather always hated spying and 
spies. And the fact that he has personally 
imported this man, shows how great is his 
hatred of the cause." 

" It has no end," and George Prentiss shook 
his head. 


" I can^t help the impression that he will 
come to danger through it all," said Ezra. 
*' It is a time when men do not stay their 
hands; and should he risk himself, his life 
will pay for it." 

Again George shook his head. 

** And he is of the sort that risk themselves," 
he said. 

'' But, tell me," said Ezra. " What sort of 
a person is Pennington ? " 

" Not more than thirty-five ; but he would 
strike you as being much older. He is about 
the average height ; and his most noticeable 
characteristics are a very high and very nar- 
row forehead, and a most disagreeable laugh." 

After George had left him, Ezra undressed 
and went to bed. But not to sleep ! Before 
his mind came pictures of conspiracies in which 
his bitter old grandfather played a conspicuous 
part. In his unreasoning hatred of the 
colonies' desire for liberty, the lad knew the 
old man would go to any length. 

" He hasn't spoken to, or looked at me for 
years," thought Ezra. " But I'd have no harm 
befall him for all that." 

Even after he had gone to sleep the idea 


clung to him in his dreams. Men with 
wonderfully high and astonishingly narrow 
foreheads laughed at him in a disagreeable 
way ; suave, dark-skinned persons in flowing 
robes sought for the destruction of the colonies 
in the musty rolls of ancient manuscript. 
And the dreams were also filled with formi- 
dable General Gages, who, sword in hand, 
urged the others to hasten their tasks. 

Next morning Ezra was up before his friends 
and after breakfasting, mounted and rode away 
toward the lines. 

There were not a great many people to be 
met with. The outbreak of war had caused 
great terror, and very many of the inhabitants 
had left Cambridge, fearful of what was to 
come. Property was for the most part left 
unprotected ; and as there were many vaga- 
bonds hanging upon the skirts of the colonial 
army, there was more or less looting. 

That a general panic did not seize upon 
the people was due to the great influence 
and untiring efforts of Dr. Warren. No 
public character of the time had impressed 
itself so upon the masses. Even the only 
partly disciplined troops felt the magnetism 


of the man, and many times, when they were 
on the verge of rising against their officers, 
had a word from him made them see the folly 
of such an action. 

It was with the intention of advising with 
the doctor that Ezra made such an early 
start. But early as he was, the patriot had 
preceded him. 

** The doctor has gone to Charlestown,'^ 
the serving maid replied to the boy's in- 
quiries. " Something was amiss there among 
the soldiers, and he was sent for." 

^* I will follow him there," said Ezra. 

** Will nothing do them but that they must 
be forever disturbing him ? " demanded the 
girl, in an aggrieved sort of way. " He can- 
not get a sound night's rest for you all. 
First it's one and then it's the other who 
comes rushing for him. Are you all chil- 
dren, that you can do nothing for your- 

Leaving the doctor^s door, Ezra mounted 
once more and rode toward Charlestown. 
Here, after much inquiry, he found the 
doctor advising with a company of riflemen 
of Colonel Prescott's command. 


There were some British gunboats and a 
heavily-armed transport anchored in the 
Charles River, and toward Boston several 
frowning frigates swung at their cables, black 
and ominous. Ezra spent some time in 
watching these, and the distant city where 
the army of Gage was quartered ; and when 
Dr. Warren was disengaged, he at once ap- 
proached him with the matter that was nearest 
his heart. 

"I understand you perfectly," said the 
patriot, after Ezra had related his story. 
** But I do not see any great occasion for 
alarm on your part. This spy system, which 
you so fortunately discovered, will not long 
survive the exposure. It is the nature of 
such things to die of too much light." 

He paused a moment and then said : 

" As to your grandfather's connection with 
it, now. It is not, in all probability, very 
great. He has proved himself useful in some 
way, perhaps, and they have made use of 
him. I know him fairly well. Seth Pren- 
tiss is too quick-tempered and far too out- 
spoken a man to be knowingly selected as 
an important part in such a plot. And re- 


garding any outbreak in Boston, you may 
put your mind at rest. Word has been sent 
to the townspeople to remain quiet, and they 
will obey.'* 

Dr. Warren talked in the same soothing 
strain for some time ; he saw that the lad was 
vaguely troubled, and desired to reassure him. 

While they were so engaged, Colonel Pres- 
cott rode up. His strikingly handsome per- 
son was set off by his neat uniform, and he 
sat his horse like an Arab. 

** Ah, Prentiss," cried he, after saluting the 
doctor cordially, "you are just the sort of 
lad I've had in mind. There's a dispatch to 
be carried to Colonel Stark at Medford, and I 
can scarcely spare an officer." 

Ezra saluted promptly. 

** Yes, colonel," spoke he. 

It took some time to get the dispatch in 
proper order; and when Ezra finally left 
Prescott's quarters, it was high noon. After 
a sharp ride to Medford the papers were de- 
livered to Colonel Stark. Then there was 
another wait while that fine warrior prepared 
his answer. Darkness had fallen when he 
arrived at Charlestown once more. 




The bay was rubbed down, rested and fed ; 
its rider stretched himself upon a bench with 
a biscuit and a slice of beef. The sky had a 
sort of a bronze hue and the stars burned 
dimly, like bright rivets set in a giant's 

Ezra, when he had finished his supper, lay 
looking up at this and wondering at the vast- 
ness of it. The lights of camp-fires flared 
here and there ; files of rough, ununiformed 
soldiers passed and repassed ; bursts of laugh- 
ter and snatches of song came down from 
groups whose duty was done. 

And across the river, under the same stars, 
lay the British army ; it was perilously near, 
and it was powerful and deadly if properly 

Ezra sat up and looked toward the danger 
point. Boston was dark, save for a few 
winking fires ; orders had been given long 
before for civilians to extinguish lights of all 
descriptions before a given hour. The side 
lights burned steadily upon the war-ships ; 
occasionally a singsong cry came from their 
decks as the watches were changed or a sea- 
man called the hour. 


Somehow, it seemed to the boy that this 
was the sort of night that strange, wild 
things might well go forward. Odd enter- 
prises might be tried and accomplished under 
that bronze sky and those dimly-burning 
stars. Strange people might well meet in all 
sorts of queer places and mysterious deeds 
might well happen. 

In the midst of these reflections, Ezra came 
to his feet, a sudden resolve fixed in his 
mind. A little distance away a group of 
townspeople were gathered. He approached 
and said to one of them : 

'' Do you know of an inn anywhere about 
that is known as the * Indian's Head ' ? " 

The man stared a moment, then shook 
his head. But one of his companions 
spoke up. 

" There is none in Charlestown ; but out- 
side," and he pointed to the north, '' there is 
a small tavern called by that name. It lies 
upon a road between Breed's and Bunker's 

'* And which do you think would be the 
best way to reach it?" inquired Ezra. 

" What, to-night? " the man glanced about 


among his companions. And all seemed to 
reflect his incredulity. 

"And why not?^' 

*' Haven't you heard that the British talk 
of crossing and setting themselves up upon 
those two hills?" 

"Yes, and of firing upon Charlestown ? " 
put in another. 

"They are only wild reports," answered 
Ezra. " Such like get abroad in times like 
these, but there is no reliance to be placed in 

If the facts be told, he had heard the same 
things himself, and from persons of some 
consequence ; but it would not do to encour- 
age the thoughts of the already frightened 
townspeople in such channels. 

" Well," said the man who professed to 
know the inn's location, " if you don't mind 
making the venture to such a place, my lad, 
I'm sure I have nothing more to say." 

His feelings were ruffled at having his 
warnings made so light of; so without more 
ado he directed Ezra as to the way to go to 
reach the inn desired. 

" I thank you," said Ezra. 


He went at once to the place where his 
horse was kept, saddled, bridled and mounted 

'' There may be some risk," he told himself, 
as he rode out of the guarded town. " And 
perhaps I should have asked Ben or Nat or 
George to go with me. But there is no time 
for that, if I am to go to-night. And like as 
not it is a quiet country place, with never a 
spice of danger in if 

The way took him along a narrow road 
bounded by stretches of grazing land. The 
sheen of the sky showed him the smooth 
swelling rise of two large hills ahead, the 
twinkling, far-off stars seemed peering down 
searching fearfully for dangers among the 

The directions of the man at Charlestown 
had been unusually good, for after a deal of 
weaving in and out and the crossing of fields, 
the boy caught the twinkle of lights from a 
building ahead. As he came up he found a 
lantern swinging above the door ; and 
mounted upon a post in the light of this he 
saw a rough painting of an Indian's head, 
which seemed to serve as a sign. 


" This is the place, sure enough," he said. 

He at once got down. He had pro'bably 
not been heard to approach ; no one came out 
to take his horse, so he tied it to a post near 
the door, slipped his long pistol into the 
breast of his coat, and coolly entered at the 

The very first thing that met his eyes were 
two men seated upon a settle engaged in ear- 
nest talk ; one had a large, plumed hat beside 
him on the floor ; he wore long soft leather 
boots and a heavy sword. 

" Gilbert Scarlett I " breathed Ezra. 

Instantly his eyes went to the person who 
sat beside the adventurer. Something that 
Scarlett had said seemed to amuse the other, 
for just as Ezra turned his attention to him, 
he uttered a high-pitched, disagreeable laugh. 

And then, to make identification doubly 
sure, the head turned slightly. And Ezra 
saw that the man^s forehead was very narrow 
and very high. 



The two were so engrossed in their conver- 
sation that they paid not the slightest heed to 
the newcomer. The landlord, a thick-set, 
sodden-looking man with a churlish expres- 
sion, however, came forward. 

** Well, young gentleman ? " he inquired, 
and he looked searchingly at Ezra out of his 
small eyes. 

" rd like my horse looked after," said the 
lad. ** And then I'd be thankful for a little 
something for myself, if it's no great trouble." 

The man shook his head surlily. 

** If you want your horse attended to, you'll 
have to do it yourself," spoke he. ** I have 
no one here to do such work. Hostlers are 
afraid to stay." 

"Very well," replied Ezra, as he seated 
himself. " I'll look to him presently." 

He had selected a far corner where Scarlett, 
if he turned, could not readily make him out. 



" Cooks are just as hard to keep/' stated 
the host grumblingly. " So if you expect 
much in the way of supper, you'll be disap- 

" Whatever you have," said Ezra, pleas- 
antly. " A dish of cold meat, the end of a 
loaf and some mead, if I'm not asking too 

The man grunted. 

*^ That's a common failing hereabouts these 
times," he said, preparing to go about his 
duties. *' They all ask too much. Every one 
of them does." Then with a sudden vicious- 
ness, '*But they'd better stay away with 
their questions I I'll not have them ! Not a 
bit of it I" 

With that he snorted his angry way into 
the kitchen, leaving his young guest with a 
quiet smile upon his face. 

" It is very evident," mused Ezra, ** that the 
spies of General Ward have been here before 
me." His eyes went to Scarlett's companion, 
and his thoughts continued. "That being 
the case. Master Pennington is a man of some 
courage to risk showing himself, I should 


The conversation between the two was 
really a monologue. Scarlett talked in a 
resonant voice, twirled his moustache and 
gestured elaborately. The other listened, 
shrugged at times, at others smiled, at others 
again uttered the high-pitched, disagreeable 
laugh. Ezra leaned back and clasped a knee 
with his hands and listened with interest. 

'' The man was an uncommon sort of man,'* 
said Scarlett, ''small, backward in his manner 
and very low spoken. When he offered me 
the work to do I felt sure that it was some 
plagued commercial matter that a man of my 
quality should have nothing to do with. But 
I needed money and he had it to pay. So I 
undertook to carry his papers without more 

*' And you found the matter of more inter- 
est than you'd have supposed ? " questioned 
the other. 

*' Decidedly,'* answered Scarlett. He pulled 
up his boot-top and stroked his chin. " First 
I lost my way ; then I lost my horse. And 
afterward, as though these were not enough, 
I all but lost my life by means of a young 
blade pistoling me upon the road ; him I sent 


on with the message. Afterward I met with 
some riders and a wagon heavily laden. 
Among the riders was the man Abdallah 
whom I had been sent to see. I knew him at 
once, for no other man in this region could 
have such an appearance." 

A look of interest came into the other's 

" And he directed you here ? " 

*' He said that I might by chance come upon 
some further employment," answered Scarlett, 
'* if I frequented this place. He was not 
pleased with the way I had performed my 
first office ; but, doubtless, he's a person of 
some perception and knows a man of mettle 
when he sees one." 

" No doubt," said Pennington, dryly. 

He regarded the adventurer with attention 
and seemed endeavoring to properly weigh 
him. There was a bold, free air about Gilbert 
Scarlett that took the eye at once ; but that 
he was wondrously boastful was evident, 
and boastful strangers are ever looked upon 
with distrust. 

" A man," declaimed Scarlett, twirling at 
his moustache, " cannot go through seven 


campaigns and not bear some stamp of his 
service. When I first offered my sword to the 
Elector of Hanover, he told me in his rough 
German way that I was but a boy. But later 
I proved to him that I could do the work of 
my elders, even then." 

"Abdallah said nothing specific, I suppose?'^ 
inquired Pennington. 

" How specific? " 

'' He gave you no token to present to any 
one by name ? " 


'' And he did not sav that he would employ 

'* Not in so many words." 

Pennington shook his head. 

" I do not know the man," said he. " But 
from what you have told me, it would seem 
that he has been making game of you." 

The head of Scarlett went up, and his hand 
sought the heavy hilt of his sword. 

" There have been one or two, at odd times, 
who have sought to do that," spoke he, and 
there was a ring in his voice that boded no 
good to any such. " And I'll warrant you 
that they never attempted it again." 


" Have you inquired of the landlord as to 
these persons whom you seek ? '* asked Pen- 

*' I have/' with a shrug. ** But he is a 
surly, short-spoken dog. I can get nothing 
out of him.'* 

" It pains me to be unable to give you any 
intelligence of them/' said Pennington. ** But 
I am a stranger here myself." 

As he spoke these words he turned his head, 
perhaps to look for the landlord. His eyes 
fell upon Ezra seated there so coolly, and a 
look of astonishment came into his face. But 
instantly he showed what a cautious man he 
was by lifting his hand to hide his face ; then 
he coughed affectedly. 

Almost simultaneously with this gesture, 
Ezra noticed Scarlett make a sharp movement. 
It was as though the adventurer was also about 
to turn. But apparently he thought better of 
it, and remained with his back stoically pre- 

" He saw the change in Pennington's face," 
was Ezra's instant thought. 

But what had caused this change the boy 
could not imagine. 


" Perhaps," he thought, '* it was but the 
sudden discovery that there is a third person 
in the room — a person who might have over- 
heard something to the disadvantage of 
Abdallah and his fellows.'* 

There was a marked pause ; the backs of 
both men were turned to Ezra ; to his search- 
ing gaze it was plain that they were casting 
about as to what they should do or say. It 
was Gilbert Scarlett who broke the silence. 

" Of course," said he, ^* a gentleman of my 
fortune — or lack of it — has no choice but to 
gain the wages that enable him to live. I 
somehow fancied the service of this Abdallah. 
Perhaps its strangeness appealed to me. But 
now that he has failed me, I can see nothing 
to do but to take service with the colonial 

'* From your tone," spoke Pennington, " I 
gather that you do not care to do this." He 
laughed his disagreeable laugh and resumed, 
" They have the right upon their side, you 
must admit that. And then they are led by 
very virtuous statesmen." 

" They are right enough," said Scarlett, 
with a shrug. " But is their treasury deep 


enough to pay a needy officer with reasonable 
regularity ? I fancy not. As to their states- 
men, I grant you their ability, knowing noth- 
ing of them good or bad ; but it takes generals 
to win battles." 

As he spoke he threw one arm across the 
back of the settle, and in the most careless 
way in the world, turned his head. When he 
saw Ezra he first looked surprised, and then 

" What," said he, jovially, " my young friend 
of the pistol I Well met 1 " 

He arose. The spurs upon the heels of his 
boots clinked upon the tiled floor, his long 
sword trailed noisily at his side. Ezra, per- 
fectly self-possessed, arose to greet him. Scar- 
lett clasped his hand warmly. 

" Chance," declared the adventurer, " plays 
us many queer pranks as we journey through 
life." He looked from Ezra to Pennington, a 
mocking smile upon his lips, then he con- 
tinued : '* For I suppose it was the very 
blindest chance that brought you here." 

Every inflection of the speaker^s voice and 
his whole attitude, however, indicated his 
complete disbelief in anything of the sort. It 


was plain to the boy that the soldier of for- 
tune was convinced that he and Pennington 
were there by prearrangement. But Ezra 
did not speak ; Pennington, his face a shade 
paler, sat watchfully observant. 

Scarlett continued to glance from one to 
the other of them with amused toleration. It 
was as though he had detected them in a sort 
of child's play by which they had hoped to 
hoodwink him. 

" Sit you down," he finally invited Ezra. 
** But over here," pushing out a chair, "where 
we can see you more readily." 

Ezra sat down, and Scarlett waved his hand 
toward Pennington, the smile still curling his 

" I do not know either of your names," he 
said, ** but," to Ezra, " here is a gentleman 
whom you are unacquainted with, of course," 
and he burst into a laugh, " but whom I could 
have diverted vastly had I chosen to tell him 
of our little misadventure upon the road, two 
nights ago." 

Surprise and incredulity came into the face 
of Pennington ; but he strove to hide his agi- 
tation from the watchful eyes of the adventurer. 


" Is it possible," he ejaculated, " that this 
is the lad with the pistol — he," eagerly, ** whom 
you sent on with the message ? " 

" None other," said Scarlett, smiling, " and 
since you are unacquainted, I take pleasure in 
making you known to each other." 

One of Pennington's hands passed over his 
face ; it was trembling, and, like his counte- 
nance, was pale. He spoke hastily to Ezra, 
trying hard to keep the eagerness out of his 

" You must have had a most extraordinary 
experience," remarked he. **And did you 
succeed in delivering this message at the 
house of this gentleman — ah," as though try- 
ing to recall the name, then giving up the at- 
tempt, " the gentleman with the foreign 

" I did," replied Ezra. " And I trust that 
Master Scarlett bears me no ill-will because of 
the manner in which I became his messenger." 

*' Not the least in life," said Scarlett. " It 
is a man's right to defend himself against all 
comers on the road. But you conducted the 
mission with which I entrusted you oddly. 
You set these people, whoever they are, by the 


ears. From what I learned in a short talk 
with them, you deceived them in sundry 
ways ; and it ended in their house being 
burned down and they," with a laugh, '* be- 
coming wanderers upon the face of the earth." 

" I delivered the papers as I promised," 
said Ezra. ** I told the people at the house 
nothing, but they took much for granted. 
What resulted was much their own fault." 

Pennington had listened with interest. 

'* Were you by any chance entrusted with a 
message in reply to the one you carried ? " he 
asked with eagerness. 

'* I was," returned the boy frankly. 

** And to whom were you to deliver it ? " 
asked Scarlett. " And where ? " 

'*To a Mr. Pennington," replied Ezra, 
evenly. " And at this inn." 

" So I " Scarlett lay back in the settle, his 
arms folded upon his chest and his booted 
legs stretched out straight before him. " And 
how were you to know this gentleman ? " 

*' I was to inquire of the landlord." 

Impulsively Scarlett rose up. 

" I will save you the trouble," said he. 
" The matter, in a measure, is my own," 


apologetically to Ezra, **so I trust you will 
pardon me." He lifted his voice and called : 
" Landlord I " 

There came a grumbling, unintelligible 
answer from the kitchen ; but the host did 
not present himself. 

" I took him to be a surly, sour-mouthed 
villain from the first," commented Scarlett. 
" And as he will not come to me, I will go to 
him. And I'll warrant you he'll tell what I 
want to know, or I'll have him dance you a 
measure that he'll not like." 

So with a hitch at his sword belt and a 
twirl at his moustache, the speaker clanked 
into the kitchen, from which his voice came 
a moment later with commanding insistence. 

And no sooner had he vanished than Pen- 
nington bent eagerly toward Ezra. 

** You know me, of course ? " said he. 

As Ezra did not reply, the man continued 
in a low, rapid tone : 

** You saw me frequently at your grand- 
father's house at Boston." 

A thrill ran through Ezra. He now 
understood that first surprised look. The 
man mistook him for his twin brother, 


George. But the boy shook his head as 
though in doubt. 

" I have no recollection of you," he an- 

The man regarded him searchingly. 

** Your name is Prentiss? " 

*' It is." 

" You are the grandson of Seth Prentiss ? " 


The man evidenced his satisfaction. 

" You are he whom I took you to be," he 
said. He studied the lad carefully for a 
moment. '' Upon second thought I do not 
wonder that you fail to recall me," con- 
tinued he. '' If I remember rightly, I 
have always been somewhat given to hesi- 
tancy in my manner of showing myself" 
Here he laughed his disagreeable laugh. *' A 
man in my particular profession must not be 
too forward." 

" And what is your profession ? " asked Ezra. 

*' I am the confidential agent of — of others," 
replied the man. " In point of fact I am the 
very man you came here to see." 

'' Not Mr. Pennington ! " 

**That is my name," returned the man. 


"And now," with a quick look toward the 
kitchen, where, judging by the sounds that 
came from it, a very stormy interview was 
taking place, *' give me the message sent by 
Abdallah. I have been trying to get into 
communication with him, but could not do 
so. I had no notion of what had happened 
until I heard some fragments of the story 
from this loud-mouthed soldier/' 

The landlord's voice now came from the 
kitchen in loud denial. 

'* I tell you, sir, I know nothing of the 
gentleman you ask for." 

" And I tell you that you do. Don't think 
to pull the wool over my eyes. Give me 
full information of this Master Pennington, 
or I'll spit you on this skewer and toast you 
over your own fire." 

** I do not pretend to understand anything 
that has happened," said Pennington to Ezra, 
swiftly and very low. " You'll have your 
own good time to explain all that. But," 
with a fearful glance at the kitchen door, 
** the matter of the dispatch which Abdallah 
gave you is perhaps urgent. And all the 
more so from being delayed." 


The uproar in the kitchen, if such a thing 
were possible, grew louder. But Ezra paid no 
heed to it. 

'' It is impossible for me to turn the paper 
over to you now,*' he answered quietly. 

The man stared at him. 

" And why ? " he asked. 

** Because I no longer have it." 

** What ! ** Pennington sprang up, his 
high, narrow forehead flushing. *'Then 
who has?" 

" I think," said the boy, " that it is in 
the hands of one who will make good use of 

Consternation was written deeply in the 
face of Master Pennington ; he had raised 
a clenched hand, an exclamation trembled 
upon his lips when the landlord rushed into 
the room amid a great clatter of pans and 
kettles. He was pale of face and affrighted 
of manner ; and close at his heels, with his 
drawn sword in his hand, strode the adven- 
turer, Gilbert Scarlett. 



The surly landlord of the " Indian's Head " 
danced into the centre of his public room, the 
expression of fear expanding upon his face. 

" Gentlemen," he cried, appealing to Ezra 
and Pennington, " I demand your protection. 
I am beset by this man, who would kill me 
in my own house." 

" If you prefer to have it so," spoke Scarlett 
with a swishing whir of his heavy blade, " I 
will dispatch you upon the lawn if you are 
possessed of one, or, in default of that, in the 
public road. I am of a liberal nature, and 
would as well please you as not in the place 
of your taking off." 

His agile point followed the churlish land- 
lord in his caperings. 

** Sir," cried the man, addressing himself to 
Pennington, " I crave you to speak a word to 



this mad villain, who seems bound to spill my 

Pennington arose and was about to remon- 
strate with the young soldier ; but the latter 
stopped before he had well begun. 

"Have the goodness to keep your place/' 
requested Scarlett, with a quick, fierce, un- 
mistakable look. ** There are some things, 
perhaps, that I can be crossed in," here the 
look grew significant, " and made to appear 
cheap. But be assured, sir, that this is not 
one of them." 

At once Pennington sank back upon the 
settle and again the landlord resumed his 
capering before the swift-moving sword point. 

" Now, rascal," cried Scarlett, harshly, 
" will you do as I ask ? Faith, I'm playing 
you easily enough ; in Muscovy they'd have 
had your life for half this show of stubborn- 

" I tell you I know no such gentleman," 
cried the landlord. " How can I tell that 
which I know not? " 

He whirled away before the brisk flash of 
the blade ; and at the same time he continued, 
addressing Pennington, meaningly : 


" I beg of you, sir, for the last time, to 
persuade this man to let be. I am but flesh 
and blood. I cannot withstand everything." 

Again Pennington seemed about to inter- 
fere ; but once more the fierce glance of Scar- 
lett awed him. Then the latter shortened his 
weapon and glowered at the innkeeper. 

** And I call upon you for the last time to 
tell me who this man Pennington is I '' he 
grated. " Quick now ! " 

The landlord's eyes sought for a means of 
escape ; but he was hard pressed to make use 
of any that presented themselves. 

'*I will tell," he at length cried, desper- 
ately. " The man you want is there." 

His trembling finger indicated Pennington, 
who turned a shade paler, but sat composedly 
enough. Scarlett's sword point fell ; he turned 
upon Pennington and saluted him in a for- 
mal, military fashion, a satirical smile curl- 
ing his moustache points upward. 

" Sir," said he, " I am most pleased. I will 
not say that I expected as much, but I can 
say that I am not at all surprised." 

Ezra watched the spy curiously. He saw 
him swallow once or twice in an effort to 


speak. But finally he managed to resume 
control of his tongue. 

'' You have found me out, then," said he, 
and he smiled in a sickly fashion. '* I was 
interested to see just how long it would take 

For all his speech faltered, his eyes were 
steady enough to threaten the innkeeper for 
betraying him. But the man returned the 
look defiantly. 

*' ril not be sworded to death, and you sit- 
ting by at your ease, never lifting a hand," he 
declared sullenly. 

Scarlett turned quickly upon the man. 

** You have done your share to the further- 
ing of the acquaintance of this gentleman 
and myself, and I am obliged to you. So 
now, back to your scullery and let us hear 
none of your protestations." 

The innkeeper went quickly enough ; he 
had had a taste of the adventurer's quality, 
and clearly desired no more of it. After he 
had vanished into his kitchen, Scarlett 
sheathed his blade, struck an attitude with 
his feet very wide apart and hooked his 
thumbs into his sword belt. 


** So, so, good and excellent sirs," said he 
with a lifting of his heavy brows. *' It would 
seem that you have been making a laughing- 
stock of me." 

" Nothing was further from my intention," 
Pennington hastened to say. 

Disbelief was plain in Scarlett's face ; he 
turned to Ezra saying : 

** And what answer has your intimate? " 

** None, other than that I am not his inti- 
mate. To the best of my knowledge," pro- 
ceeded Ezra, " I have never met with this gen- 
tleman before to-night." 

Gilbert Scarlett shot him a mingled glance 
of astonishment and regret. 

** I was mistaken in you, then," spoke he. 
'* I took you to be an upstanding youth of 
much character and straightforwardness." 

Ezra was about to speak in answer to this, 
but the young soldier waved his hand. 

** Let me have no denials. I have eyes," 
and he gestured angrily. " Also, I have 
perception, though you both seem to doubt 

"Sir," spoke Pennington, in a soothing 
tone, "you much deceive yourself if you 


fancy that we have in any way sought to mis- 
lead you." 

He leaned forward upon the settle, his legs 
crossed and his hands upon his knees. 

" Now/' he proceeded, " I leave it to you as 
a gentleman of wide experience and much 
service, to pass judgment upon what I am about 
to say." 

The adventurer unhooked his thumbs from 
his sword belt and twirled his moustache. He 
eaid nothing in reply ; but there was a sardonic 
look in his face. 

" I," and Pennington tapped his chest, ''am 
the person whom your young friend here," 
with a nod toward Ezra, " was to inquire for. 
I acknowledge it." 

" It's overlate for frankness," said Gilbert 
Scarlett, grimly. " But, go on." 

" I am able to say in perfect good faith," 
went on Pennington, *' that I had no expecta- 
tion of seeing him. Neither had I any notion 
that he knew anything of the affairs of Abdal- 
lah. As for my failure to acknowledge a con- 
nection with the story which you told me 
a while ago, you surely can feel no resentment 
for that. When a man is engaged in " — 


he paused and shrugged his shoulders — 
'* well, in work of a more or less secret char- 
acter, it is not quite safe for him to speak 
freely with strangers." 

The adventurer unbent his brows and his 
face altered in expression. 

** Now," said he, " that is talk that holds 
much sense. It is clear to me that you could 
not do other than you did." 

Then he turned to Ezra once more. 

" Chance and circumstance seem to have 
taken you for their very own," said he. 

" Some things have befallen me of late days 
that make your saying seem like the truth," 
said Ezra. *' But my experience must be but 
a trifle, as compared with what yours must 
have been, sir. I have no doubt but that 
chance has figured much in your life." 

" Why," answered the adventurer, " now 
that you mention it, it is true enough. What 
great matter is it for a lad to chance along a 
lonely wagon way near to sundown, and meet 
with a horseman who has had an accident be- 
fall him ? And that you should chance to 
have the pleasure of this gentleman's acquaint- 
ance," indicating Pennington, "is, upon second 


thought, not a matter to marvel at. Wh}^ I 
recall, how, when I served the Turk at Cairo, 
I met with an adventure that must have 
seemed like a miracle of chance. Moslems 
are a strange people, but they grow stranger 
still in their dealings with a Christian ; and 
when that Christian happens to be in com- 
mand of a squadron of them " 

But he stopped upon the very verge 
of the adventure. Pulling up a chair, he 
seated himself in it and addressing Ezra, 

" But let us come to this message which 
Abdallah gave you. As you came here seek- 
ing Master Pennington, which I have no 
doubt you did, I suppose you brought the 
writing with you.'^ 

During all which followed Scarlett^s en- 
trance with the innkeeper, Pennington's 
sharp glance kept shifting itself to Ezra. Now 
he spoke, eagerly : 

** In that you bring us to a matter of con- 
sequence, sir. During your absence, we held 
some converse upon this very matter. And 
our young friend informed me that the dis- 
patch is no longer in his possession.'* 


Scarlett folded his arms across his chest in 
an easy sort of way, and replied, lightly : 

" I have no real knowledge of this affair, 
one way or the other, sir. But from your 
manner, I take it that this circumstance is ir- 

" It is more than that,*' spoke Pennington. 
'* It may be fatal. General Gage was expect- 
ing " 

But here he checked himself after the 
manner of a cautious man who has caught 
himself in the midst of a dangerous admission. 

Ezra, however, smiled. 

** It is somewhat late," said he, " to try and 
conceal the dispatch's ultimate destination. 
Major Buckstone saw to my enlightenment at 
the very start." 

Pennington's hands clenched. 

" You saw him then ! The old idiot I He 
would discuss our plans with the colonial 
council of war itself." 

" I have not the good fortune of this gentle- 
man's acquaintance," spoke Scarlett, ** but I 
think I know the type. The bluff old officer 
— honest as the sun — who knows nothing but 
his routine and the well ordering of his com- 


mand. But/' with a careless wave of the 
hand, " what matters it? We are all friends, 
are we not? We are all fairly well gifted 
with understanding. So a trifle of plain talk 
will do no harm," 

Pennington pondered and nodded reluc- 

*' In a way," said he, '* you are right." 

"A frank question or two, when needed, 
will have no bad result," said the adventurer. 
" And I think if they were applied here and 
now, we'd come at something of profit, per- 

Pennington's face flushed. 

*' I am beholden to you, sir," said he, a 
trifle bitterly. Then turning to Ezra he 
said : ** Perhaps you will now tell us how 
you came to so part with the papers entrusted 
to you ? " 

*' Is it any great wonder," said Ezra, '* that 
I did not safeguard a message given me by 
people who later sought my life ? " 

He was determined to be as evasive as 
possible. If he hoped to come to the true 
depth and breadth of this spy system, he 
knew that he must meet craft with craft. 


Pennington made no reply to this, but con- 
tinued to sit and watch. The situation must 
have puzzled him ; clearly he did not under- 
stand it. 

But Scarlett was ready enough. 

" For my part, I blame you but little," he 
said. *' It was but a churlish way to treat a 

There was a short pause; then the spy 

" Might I ask," he inquired, " who this 
mysterious person is to whom you confided 
this paper?" 

Ezra shook his head and remained silent. 

" As a grandson of Seth Prentiss," con- 
tinued Pennington, *' I am loth to believe 
you other than a friend to honesty and good 

** And in that," returned the boy, *' you 
would be right." 

Scarlett here leaned forward. 

'* And was the gentleman to whom you en- 
trusted the paper," asked he, *' of a like incli- 
nation ? " 

'' He was." 

** Why, in that case," and the soldier of for- 


tune laughed good-humoredly, **I don't 
think it any great matter. Let us but get 
word to the gentleman and he'll take it to 
Boston himself, perhaps." 

Pennington's eyes searched Ezra's face, and 
the boy replied : 

'* Perhaps so ; I have heard him say that he 
meant to make his way into Boston before 

The hidden meaning of this must have left 
its trace in Ezra's voice, for Pennington's 
gaze, if it were possible, grew keener. 

** That may, perhaps, serve," said the man. 
Then he continued : " It so chances that I 
am left in a most peculiar position by your 
unexpected connection with this affair. Mas- 
ter Prentiss." There was concern in his voice 
as he went on. ** It will be difficult for me 
to explain it to those to whom I must make 
explanation. And it will be equally difficult 
for them to understand." 

A thrill ran through Ezra. As plainly as 
day he read the purpose of the man in his 
crafty eyes. And, so it flashed upon him, as 
that purpose would help him in his own, he 
at once fell in with it 


" If I could but make my own explana- 
tion," he said, " it would greatly lighten your 

The eyes of the spy snapped. 

**To do that you must needs go into 
Boston," he said. *^ Would you venture 
that ? " 

** I have been there before," answered the 
boy. ** And why not again ? And I think 
this gentleman," nodding smilingly at Scar- 
lett, *' would also make the venture if it could 
be accomplished." 

" As well as not," said the soldier of for- 
tune, carelessly. '* One place is much like 
another to me." 

There was triumph in Pennington's face as 
he arose. 

" Excellent ! " he cried. " Both of you shall 
cross the river to-night. I have the means at 
hand. And I will present you to those," 
here the high-pitched, disagreeable laugh 
rang out, ** who will be delighted to welcome 



It was very evident to Ezra Prentiss that 
the purpose of Pennington was to entrap him. 
Once safe in Boston, so the spy's thoughts ran, 
he and his friends could put upon the boy 
whatever pressure it pleased them ; there the 
latter would not be so indefinite in his state- 
ments as he was at the " Indian's Head." 

** If you have a way of crossing, it must be 
a most secret one,'* said Gilbert Scarlett, who, 
like the others, was preparing to depart. 
*' Only this morning I made the rounds, or as 
much of them as I was permitted to make, 
and I found the shore very well guarded.'* 

" They make a great display of activity and 
alertness," said Pennington, with disdain. 
'* But the river is open for any one who cares 
to cross it." 



Here Pennington stepped into the kitchen 
and exchanged a few rapid words with the 
innkeeper. Scarlett pursed his lips and re- 
garded Ezra with attention. 

" It would seem to me that under proper 
conditions, he would prove a very thorough- 
going gentleman/' remarked he, with a nod 
toward the door. 

" I have no doubt of it," said the boy. 

Scarlett continued to look at him ; and 
there was speculation in his eyes. At length 
he spoke again. 

*' You baffle me sometimes. By your looks 
you should be a plain dealer, if one is to place 
an atom of trust in the reading of faces. And 
yet I find you writhing about like an eel upon 
a brick pavement.*' 

*' What I have said," returned Ezra, " is the 

** Ay, what you have said ! " The other 
laughed and slapped his chest. " It's what 
you have not said that takes me by the horns. 
And," with a jerk of the thumb over his 
shoulder, " our acquaintance there is bothered 
by it too." The speaker studied Ezra for a 
moment. " Has it occurred to you that you 


may have fallen in with his desires very neatly 
in offering to cross the river ? " 

Ezra smiled and nodded. At this Gilbert 
Scarlett laughed and slapped him upon the 

** I might have known it/' said he. " You 
are a deep one for a lad.'' 

" Only a few nights ago you had a rather 
poor opinion of my wit," said Ezra. 

*^ I remember the saying and I recall it," 
spoke Scarlett. " I took you for a country 
lad, in sympathy with the colonists ; and I 
thought it quite a jest to have you carry a 
message which I felt sure was calculated to 
help your countrymen but little. But," with 
a gesture, ** I have changed my mind with re- 
gard to you. I no longer know what to think. 
But this I do know," with great candor, " I 
like you ; and I'll stand your friend, if you 
need a friend, at any place and at any 

Before the boy had an opportunity to ex- 
press his thanks, Pennington emerged from 
the kitchen. Buttoning up his coat, he 
said : 

'* You'll have to leave your horses in care 


of the landlord, gentlemen. The patrols and 
detachments that hold the roads would be 
sure to see us if we went mounted." 

Gilbert Scarlett did not like this. 

" Without a horse," declared he, " I am like 
a fish without water to swim in. But, if we 
must, we must, and that's all there is to it." 

Without, it was dark and silent. The 
bronze sky of the early evening had given 
place to one entirely black. But the stars 
winked curiously down, and their rays re- 
lieved the darkness to a great extent. 

" It will behoove us to mind our steps," said 
Pennington, as they made their way along 
the road by which Ezra had approached the 
** Indian's Head." " Daylight shows many 
ditches and sunken fences in this hollow, and 
it would scarcely benefit our peace of mind or 
body to come upon one or the other." 

" Twas a good thought to create the stars," 
mused the soldier of fortune, aloud, after they 
had gone some distance. " They relieve the 
moon of duty when she is weary. If it were 
not for them and their twinkling, the night 
would be as black as my hat." 

" Queer things are done on dark nights," 


said the spy, and he laughed in his disagree- 
able way. 

Scarlett nudged Ezra in the darkness. Then 
he made reply : 

*' I can well believe that. And the saying 
brings to mind a little experience that I once 
had in Moscow while I served my short career 
with the Czar. My regiment had but re- 
turned from the frontier, after several onfalls 
at Tartar towns ; and I and several of my 
comrades were drinking our glasses of tea in 
a booth. It was a very dark night and we 
talked over the times just passed, and were 
hoping good fortune for those to come, when 
there entered a " 

A shrill thistle sounded and Scarlett's 
anecdote was nipped suddenly. 

** Be Bile^i^J^ said Pennington in a whisper. 
He drev/ i\xfm to the side of the road, where 
all three halted and crouched, watchfully. 
The steady tramp of men was heard in the 
darkness ; then some indistinct forms began 
to wave uncertainly on their vision ; finally a 
voice was heard saying : 

** No, I was not sure. But it sounded 
much like some one speaking." 


" It may have corae from a great distance 
off. Sounds travel far at night, you know/' 

" Yes ; but this seemed fairly close. And 
it is hereabouts that we were warned that the 
British might venture seeking information, 
so we can't be too careful." 

The tramp of the men continued along the 
road. At length they were swallowed up; 
and both their voices and footsteps died 

** A patrol," said Pennington. ** And it's 
the first time that I've seen one so far away 
from the shore. It seems that we must be 
extra careful to-night." 

They remained as they were for a time, 
then, under the guidance of the spy, they left 
the road, mounted a fence and entered the 
fields. From then on it was very rough 
traveling; but Pennington, who had most 
probably been over the ground often before, 
selected the least broken ways, in spite of the 
darkness. After what seemed a very long 
time indeed, they mounted to the top of 
Breed's Hill ; and off before them they now 
made out the lights of the British gun vessels 
swinging in the stream. 


Cautiously they descended to the water*s 
edge. Here and there, some distance back, 
there was a watch-fire, about which were 
gathered a small group of hardy colonists; 
but Pennington had studied the situation 
well ; for that point of the shore upon which 
they stood was apparently unguarded. 

The spy waited in silence for a time ; then 
he uttered a low, mournful cry like that of a 
night-bird haunting the water's edge. There 
was a brief pause; then the sound was re- 
peated from the river. 

*' It is a most excellent thing,'* observed 
Pennington, *' to have an aide who can be de- 
pended upon at all times." 

*'That remark," said Scarlett, "is almost 
exactly similar to one that I once heard from 
the old Elector of Hanover. He said " 

" Sh-h-h ! " warned Pennington. " Not so 

Scarlett at once ceased speaking. Again 
they stood in silence ; then the faint dip of 
oars reached them. A little later a low voice 
asked inquiringly : 

'* For whom ? " 

" For King George," replied Pennington 


promptly. Then the low-pitched voice re- 
sumed : 

*'Is that you, Mr.Pennington?" 

" Yes, with some friends.'' 

The spy, followed by Scarlett and Ezra, 
climbed into the skiff; it was manned by four 
sailor-like men, who at once pushed off. 

Not a word was spoken after they had once 
started; carefully the sweeps were dipped, 
slowly they were pulled ; the skiff progressed 
steadily and with scarcely a ripple of the 

Gradually the lights of a vessel grew 
nearer. There was a rattling and clinking of 
metal from her low-lying deck ; then a hoarse 
voice, startlingly loud after all their caution, 
hailed them. 

" Ahoy I " cried the voice. " Belay there, 
and give an account of yourself." 

"Is that the * Scorpion '? *' asked Penning- 

"It is. For whom?" 

" For King George." 

" Come alongside and let's have a look at 

The skiff approached the gun vessel ; as its 


bow scraped the side a man leaned over the 
rail with a ship's lantern. 

*' Ay, ay," he said in a tone of recognition. 
** So it's you, once more, is it, Pennington ? " 

" Once more, Mr. Halsey," returned the 


" Quite a boatload, I see," and the man 
flashed his lantern aloft. 

** Yes, some gentlemen who wish to enter 
the town." 

" It's the only place for honest men," 
grumbled the sailor. " But I must say there 
is a great shortage of fresh provision there. 
My men will all be down with the scurvy if 
they don't get a change soon." 

The seaman was still speaking when the 
skiff pulled out of hearing. Three times 
they were halted before they reached a point 
on the Boston side just above Gree's ship- 
yard. A heavy battery was planted here 
that commanded Charlestown, and they 
were brought under this in charge of a yawl 
filled with men and in command of a young 
officer of marines, who showed dapper and 
spick and span under the lantern light. 

When they were landed, a file of men took 


them in charge until Pennington, after some 
whispered conversation, was passed by the 
officer in charge. 

" A right soldierly way of looking at the 
matter," observed Scarlett, who had been 
keenly watching all that occurred. 

" General Gage is a most excellent soldier," 
spoke Pennington. " None of the rebel troops 
shall get in while he is in command, nor," 
and there was a sneer in his tone, " none of 
his own troops shall get out." 

As they passed through Prince's Street they 
heard the steady tramp of troops on their 
way to the southerly part of the city. When 
beyond the Mill Pond, a roar of hoofs met 
them as squadron after squadron of cavalry 
dashed by headed in the same direction. 
At Middle Street they encountered a battery 
of field-guns also hastening southward. 

" Something is toward, to-night," said 
Scarlett with great interest. 

'* It may be that they are on their way to 
the Neck," was Ezra's thought. And a shiver 
ran through him as he fancied the colonists 
not being ready to meet the attack. 

When they passed the gardens they came to 


Sun Court ; and as they paused before a stately 
mansion, Ezra said : 

'^ But why here? Surely my grandfather 
has nothing to do with this business." 

Pennington laughed. 

*' Don't be too sure of that. He is a man 
much desirous of the government's advance- 
ment, and he does not hesitate to use what- 
ever means he can to serve that purpose." 

The speaker ascended the steps and gave 
a sharp rat-tat-tat upon the heavy knocker ; 
then he turned and looked down at the boy, 
who remained upon the brick walk. 

** Another thing," said he. ** You will find 
him a man not easily satisfied." 

" I know that," replied Ezra. 

" Your explanation as to how you came 
to part with Abdallah's dispatch will have 
to be very much more complete than the one 
you gave me," said Pennington, rubbing his 
hands together in a satisfied way. ** He will 
not tolerate evasion of any sort, especially in 
the presence of those whom he is entertaining 

" He has guests, then ? " said the boy. 

Before Pennington could reply, the door 


opened. A grave servant stepped aside in 
the brightly-lighted hallway, and they entered. 
And as the door closed behind them, from a 
room to the left of a hall came a great voice 
roaring : 

" I tell you, General Gage, I did all that a 
soldier and a gentleman could well do. If 
the messenger proved a knave and a traitor, 
the blame is not to be laid at my door." 

Pennington's hand fell lightly upon Ezra's 
shoulder, and he said sneeringly in the boy's 
ear : 

** Here is good fortune. I knew of Gage, 
but I did not even dream of your acquaint- 
ance Major Buckstone being here." 



For a moment, after hearing the thunderous 
voice of Major Buckstone, Ezra Prentiss was 
startled. But an instant's reflection showed 
him that the major's presence could make no 
difference to him or his plans. 

" He knows nothing of me that is not al- 
ready known," the lad told himself. 

The grave-faced man servant who had ad- 
mitted them now spoke, in a low-voiced aside, 
to Ezra. 

*' I am glad to see you back, sir. We've 
had all sorts of fears for you. The master 
thought you might have been killed, even." 

Ezra smiled. 

*'But you see that I am not," said he, 
understanding at once that he was again mis- 
taken for George. 

** Yes, sir." The man looked at him in a 
fidgety sort of way. He seemed to dread 



something. ** The master, sir," he recom- 
menced, •* is — is — you'll pardon me, sir — in a 
bad temper to-night. Shall I announce you ? " 

But here Pennington intruded himself. 

'* If I may be so pushing," said he to Ezra, 
" I will take that upon myself. There are 
some trifles that had perhaps better be gone 
over before he sees you." 

Ezra caught Scarlett's warning look, but 
paid no attention. He knew full well that it 
was the spy's intention to be forehanded with 
him ; he realized that the man desired to 
place the case before the gathering in his 
grandfather's house in as evil a light as pos- 

But he was careless in the matter ; he felt 
that it made no difference what Pennington 
said. He was in Boston ; he was in a fair way, 
perhaps, of discovering much that would be of 
help to the cause of liberty. How he was to 
escape, finally, was a matter for the future. 
The present was to be spent in garnering facts ; 
the future must take care of itself. 

** Very well," said Ezra, readily enough. 
" Do you speak to him and prepare him." 

Pennington followed the serving man up 


the wide hall ; some hangings were drawn 
back and both disappeared. 

"More and more strange do you grow to 
me," said Scarlett, as he seated himself in a 
cushioned chair. *' I thought you wise enough 
to know that a first voice in a cause is usually 
the winning one." 

" When one has little interest in a thing," 
returned Ezra, '* it matters little who wins. 
My purpose here is not to see who makes the 
best impression on my grandfather and his 

Scarlett said nothing to this, but merely 
shook his head and began to look about him. 

The hall was a lofty one with a polished 
floor and a broad balustraded staircase. Paint- 
ings hung upon the walls and rich Eastern 
hangings screened the doorways. There was 
a massiveness about everything that indicated 
opulence in the owner. 

"Your grandfather," said the soldier, "is 
evidently a person of some consequence." 

" He is engaged in the West Indian trade," 
answered Ezra, " and is accounted a very rich 

" I see." The soldier of fortune twisted one 


end of his moustache. " This war, however, 
will put a check to his money-making for a 
time, I think/' 

" It has all but ruined the trade of them all. 
And I wonder how much," speculated the boy, 
" that has to do with the British leaning of 
most of the merchants." 

" A great deal, you may depend," chuckled 
Gilbert Scarlett. " Touch a trader's purse and 
you touch him upon a most delicate part. 
Not," hastily, " that I mpan to cast any dis- 
credit upon your relative. I speak of mer- 
chants in the bulk." 

*' It is not for me to defend my grandfather," 
said Ezra with a smile, ** even if you did select 
him from them all." For there came a con- 
fused hubbub of voices, above which was one 
high, harsh and threatening. " As you shall 
see in a moment, he is in every way compe- 
tent to take care of himself" 

Even as he spoke the hangings over the far 
doorway were flung aside and a tall, grim- 
faced old man, with thin white hair and of 
gaunt, powerful frame, stepped into the hall. 
With head erect and frowning brows he came 
down the hall ; his eyes were hard with anger. 


"So/' said he, and Scarlett at once learned 
that he was the owner of the harsh voice, 
" you have seen fit to show yourself at last, I 

Ezra bowed respectfully. 

*' As things are, sir," said he, quietly, ** it 
would have puzzled me to make my way into 
Boston any sooner." 

A burning hatred flashed in Seth Prentiss^ 
eyes. One hand gestured his fury, the other 
was pointed at his grandson. 

" Are you mocking me ? " he asked in a 
voice made low by the storm of feeling that 
seemed to possess him. " Are you deriding us 
all because we are pent up here, like rats, and 
never a blow struck by the King's troops to 
set the matter right I " 

" As you should know, sir," said Ezra, in 
the same respectful tone, " I would not " 

But the stern old man silenced him with a 

*' I know nothing as to what you would or 
would not do," he said. " You have always 
been half-hearted in the cause of King George. 
From the beginning I've noticed a bent in you 
toward those rascals over there," and his 


furious arm-sweep took in the whole region 
from Dorchester to Charlestown. " You were 
always talking of what they had to bear with ; 
seldom indeed have I heard you speak of what 
we suffered." 

" The patriots " began Ezra once more, 

but again he was interrupted. 

" Patriots I Fiddlesticks, sir I Rebels is 
the name for them I Rebels to a good King, 
and skulkers who destroy the prosperity of 
their countrymen. My ships rot in their 
docks ; my trade is going from me bit by bit, 
after my years of struggle to build it up." 

** It is the fortune of war, sir," said Gilbert 
Scarlett, soothingly. 

** War 1 " The gray brows drew themselves 
lower and the grim old face turned upon the 
speaker. " Do you call this war ? It is not I 
It is an infamy that will recoil upon them, 

** Say what you please," retorted the adven- 
turer coolly, " war it is, and a very pretty one, 
indeed, all things considered. For mechanics 
and husbandmen, these rebels of yours set to 
it right cleverly." 

What the answer of Seth Prentiss would 


have been to this is not known. For another 
step sounded in the hall and a stout man in 
the uniform of a British general officer made 
his appearance. He had a round face and a 
bluff manner ; his voice held the note of satire 
as bespoke. 

" Hah ! " said he, " and so we have here a 
student of warfare." He swept Scarlett with 
a look. " And so you admire the works of the 
Americans ? " he asked. 

The young adventurer had arisen upon the 
appearance of Ezra's grandfather ; so he now 
struck his favorite attitude, his legs very far 
apart, his thumbs in his sword belt. 

** In so far as they go," replied he, " I have 
the honor to say, * Yes.' Not that I consider 
their formations complete, mind you," with 
an air of great assurance, ** for I have seen 
much that could be corrected. But, when all 
is said and done, they have you fairly be- 
leaguered ; without reinforcements you cannot 

As this very clearly stated the case. General 
Gage, for the officer was the British governor, 
looked at the speaker sharply. 

" Mr. Pennington gave us your name," said 



he, ** but I have forgotten it. Perhaps you 
would favor us, sir ? " 

Scarlett bowed elaborately. 

" I am Gilbert Scarlett," said he, " and have 
but lately served His Majesty of Spain. Also 
I have seen blows struck while in the armies 
of the Turk, the Elector of Hanover, and His 
Grace of Wurtemburg. I could add to these," 
with modesty, " the names of the Swiss and 
some Northern nations, but," as he shrugged 
his shoulders, ** what purpose would it serve ? 
From what I have already said you must have 
gathered that I know whereof I speak." 

The British general smiled satirically. 

*^ You are overyoung to have served so 
many princes and states," said he. ^* And I 
fear that your time with each one must have 
been a brief one." 

At this the dark brows of the young soldier 
of fortune came together ; his hand hitched 
his sword around in a manner that Ezra well 
remembered, and was about to speak. But 
the lad placed a warning hand upon his arm, 
and gave him a look. 

However, Gage paid no attention to the 
other's reception of his remarks. Indeed, no 


sooner had he uttered them than he turned to 
the master of the house, and said : 

" If you will be so obliging, Mr. Prentiss, 
we will continue our conference. This 
stranger gentleman and your grandson can, no 
doubt, await our convenience." 

" Sir," replied the merchant, " I beg your 
pardon for leaving the room so abruptly. But 
I could not wait. I could not remain and 
think of him being here," indicating Ezra, 
" under the weight of this accusation." 

** That is very natural," returned Gage, 
good-naturedly enough. " But let us come at 
the matter in an orderly, soldierly way. 
When we have fully understood what Pen- 
nington has to say, then we shall call the lad 
in — and his very experienced friend also," 
with rather a mocking look at Scarlett. 
" That will be much the best way." 

The aged merchant bowed to the suggestion 
of the British governor. But his stern eyes 
lost none of their anger ; his jaws were set as 
grimly as ever. And as he preceded Gage up 
the hall, his manner was proud and unrelent- 

*' It would seem," said Scarlett, who had 


ignored Gage^s last fling with considerable ef- 
fort, *^ that your grandfather is a gentleman 
who would judge and condemn one very 
quickly if he were so inclined." 

" He is a proud man and an intolerant one," 
replied the boy. ** He loves to rule, and, as 
you may have noticed, his rule is not likely 
to be of the lightest." 

Both Seth Prentiss and General Gage had 
disappeared into the room from which they 
had lately emerged ; and the grave-faced serv- 
ing man brought the two visitors chairs, that 
they might rest while awaiting the British 
commander^s pleasure. 

The night was drawing on ; indeed it was 
past midnight, and the quietness of the house 
in Sun Court was unbroken as they sat in 
silence, each moment expecting to be sum- 
moned. Ezra had no notion of how the mat- 
ter would terminate. But he had expecta- 
tions of learning something that would help 
the cause of the colonies ; and so he sat 
patiently, alertly, never for a moment allow- 
ing his mind to drift from its purpose. 

Without in the court a guard paced slowly 
and steadily up and down. The footsteps 


were heavy and measured ; the soldier evi- 
dently had plates of steel set in his shoes ; for 
when his heels struck the stones they gave 
out a metallic ring. Every now and then 
from the direction of Middle Street came the 
rush of hoofs. 

" They seem to be pushing troops steadily 
toward the lower end of the town," said 
Scarlett, lowly, at length. ** And to my 
mind that means nothing less than the de- 
livery of an attack, or the expectation of re- 
ceiving one." 

" The lower end of the town I The delivery 
of an attack I " 

These words startled Ezra. Like a flash the 
thought of a few hours before came to the 
boy. Finding that his dispatch bearer had 
failed him. Major Buckstone had delivered 
his information by word of mouth. And 
now, under cover of the darkness, Gage was 
hurrying his most formidable troops toward 
the Neck, meaning to hurl them forward and 
crush the slender line of guard. 

As the moments slipped by, the lad^s feel- 
ings can well be imagined. He was forced to 
wait. Even had he slipped out of his 


grandfather^s house, he could give his com- 
manders no warning. The river lay between 
them, the passage of which, under the cir- 
cumstances, was all but impossible. 

However, there was one thought that gave 
him courage and kept him cool. 

" Dr. Warren received the dispatch in good 
time," he told himself. " He must have con- 
sulted with General Ward. The guard at the 
Neck has surely been made strong enough to 
resist any sally." 

An hour went by and the greater part of 
another. Scarlett was beginning to grumble 
impatiently when Pennington pushed aside 
the hangings of the far doorway and beck- 
oned them forward. 

"It is surely time," said Scarlett, as he 
arose and shook himself together like a great 
dog. *' Even the softest cushion grows hard, 
Master Pennington, when a man waits over- 

But Pennington made no answer ; there 
was a mocking light in his eyes, as he held 
back the hangings that they might enter ; 
and an unpleasant smile was upon his lip. 

In the centre of the room, which was a lofty 


one, was a huge table. At the head of this 
sat General Gage. Upon either side sat 
Ezra^s grandfather and Major Buckstone. 

As the latter caught sight of Ezra he arose 
to his feet and his heavy voice arose with 

" Ah, my young gentlemen," he saluted. 
'* Well met. I am more pleased to see you 
than I can express." 

** You are very good, Major Buckstone," 
said Ezra calmly. He bowed to the angry 
old officer. There was a smile upon his face 
as though the meeting gave him real pleasure. 
This rendered the major furious. 

" You are impudent, sir," he roared, bang- 
ing the table with his fist. ** You are inso- 
lent I But," in triumph, " there are several 
matters which we have before us which will 
make you change your manner in a mo- 

He would have continued in this strain, 
had not Gage said, coldly : 

" Kindly remember, Major Buckstone, that 
I am to conduct this affair." 

The major grew purple ; however, he 
saluted silently and resumed his seat. 


The British governor-general regarded 
Ezra speculatively for a moment. He seemed 
to be gathering his thoughts. Finally, he 
cleared his throat and said : 

'^ We have been informed by Mr. Penning- 
ton with regard to what passed a few nights 
ago. Also he has told us of his meeting with 
you/' then nodding at the young soldier, who 
stood stiffly, " and with this gentleman, to- 

There was a short pause ; then the com- 
mander of the British continued : 

** This dispatch — a paper of the utmost im- 
portance in furthering the King's cause — I 
understand was turned over by you to a 
certain mysterious person whom you have 
not named." 

Ezra inclined his head. 

'* It is necessary," and Gage leaned his 
stout body forward, ''that the name and 
quality of this person be supplied us." 

" As to his quality," returned Ezra Pren- 
tiss, " I can vouch for that. He is a most 
excellent gentleman and has the country's 
peace at heart." 

Gage frowned. 


" That tells us very little/' he said. " The 
country's peace is claimed by those rascals 
across the river to be the thing nearest 
their thoughts. And yet you see them in 
arms against the King and his Parliament. 
You must go further than that, Master Pren- 

But Ezra shook his head. 

*' I am sorry," said he. *' But that I cannot 

The displeasure upon the face of Gage in- 
creased. He was about to continue ; but 
suddenly his expression changed ; he held 
up one hand and appeared to be listening 
intently. Then suddenly a smile overspread 
his countenance. 

" It is more than likely that the misuse 
which you have made of this dispatch will do 
little harm," he said. " But, for all," with a 
keen look, " I would like much to have this 
unknown gentleman's name." 

A deep rumbling sound came from off in 
the distance. This was what Gage's quick 
ear had heard. Through one of the windows 
Ezra noted a red reflection glance across the 


" They have begun the sally," he thought. 
But he kept his expression of his concern 
from appearing in his face ; the gaze of Gage 
was fixed upon him, and it would not do to 
show any interest except in the matter at 

Major Buckstone also caught the sound. 
He looked at his commanding officer inquir- 

" You have been prompt," said he. 

** It was necessary," replied the governor^ 
dryly. '' A great deal of time had been 
wasted, you know." 

The bluff major seemed stung by this and 
was about to reply ; but Gage's upraised hand 
silenced him. The general gave Ezra his atten- 
tion once more. 

" You have not answered," said he. 

" I cannot," returned the boy. 

" I would hesitate in ascribing any motive 
to your actions that would be to your dis- 
credit," said General Gage ; ** but in the face 
of this answer, what else can I do? Some 
time since, before that unfortunate occurrence 
at Lexington, I recall that you tried to be of 
some service to me, Master George. And 


your grandfather tells me, though reluctantly/' 
with a twinkle in his eyes, '' that there have 
been numerous other things you have done 
to serve the King. But he tells me that you 
have had queer notions — mixed feelings — odd 
ways of showing your loyalty." 

" He has always had too much regard for 
the colonies," said Seth Prentiss, and from 
the expression of his face this was nothing 
short of a crime. ^' He has done, it is true, 
many things that helped our cause," con- 
tinued the old merchant. " But he has done 
them because he thought it the best way to 
serve the colonies. The King was never in 
his heart." 

There was a pause. The rumble of the 
guns rolled across the city ; the red flashes 
became incessant in the sky. And as they 
grew in volume and frequency, so did the 
good humor of General Gage increase. 

** So long as he has served the King's 
cause," said the commander, " it matters but 
very little what his reasons were. But this 
affair of the dispatch is different." 

Here Gilbert Scarlett cleared his throat. 

** If I may speak a word," said he, and he 


bowed elaborately, " I will say that I see no 
great difference in what has already happened 
and what is happening now." 

Gage looked at him inquiringly. 

" If the youth has had odd and curious 
ways of performing his services in the past," 
said the soldier of fortune, " is it any matter 
for wonderment that he should have them in 
the present ? " 

'* Why," said Gage, apparently much struck 
by this reasoning, '* what you say has the ring 
of philosophy." 

He tapped the edge of the table with his 
finger-tips for a moment. He was a good- 
natured man when things were working 
smoothly ; and he showed it now. 

" Who knows," laughed he, ** but what 
this is some sort of a pleasant surprise he 
has in store for us ? As he deals in mysteries, 
much as Abdallah does, there is no telling." 

He turned to Ezra. 

" So," he continued, " we will allow the 
matter to rest for a time. Further action 
can be taken when any developments come 
to our notice." 

"And in the meantime," inquired Major 


Buckstone, " what disposition is to be made 
with regard to the prisoners ? " 

*' Oh, I would scarcely regard them in that 
light/' replied Gage carelessly. " We will 
allow them what run of the city the towns- 
people have. Never fear but that they will 
be at hand when wanted. The ways out of 
Boston are closely watched, my dear major, 
as Master Pennington can well tell you. They 
cannot get out, should they desire to do so 
ever so much." 

The major glowered at Ezra, displeased. 
The old merchant sat silently grim and un- 
believing. Pennington, with satire in his 
eyes, rubbed the palms of his hands together 

Then there came a clatter of hoofs that 
broke the silence of Sun Court, They paused 
under the window, and the rider was heard 
dismounting. An instant later the heavy 
knocker at the door of Seth Prentiss' house 
gave its thunderous rat-tat-tat. 

" Something very urgent, it would seem," 
said Pennington. 

The man servant hurriedly brought into 
the governor's presence a much bespattered 


and all but breathless young officer of dra- 

" Well, sir ? " inquired Gage, sharply. 

" News from Boston Neck, sir,'' and the 
young officer saluted hurriedly. " The attack 
was made, but the Americans were in large 
force and we were repulsed. Then they at- 
tacked in turn and drove us back. The 
George tavern has been burned by them and 
we have suffered some loss." 

" Very well I " The general's voice was now 
sharp and angry. " If there is any further 
action, let a report be sent me at once." 

The dragoon saluted and disappeared. Gage 
turned to Ezra. 

" It may be that this upsetting of my plans 
has been caused by you," he said. ** And 
then again, perhaps Abdallah's information 
may have been erroneous. However, I shall 
soon come at the real facts ; and you shall 
remain in Boston until I do." 



Ezra Prentiss and Gilbert Scarlett left the 
house of the former's grandfather in the dark 
of that April morning. And as they crossed 
the threshold, Gage's voice sounded in their 

*' Mind you what I say, and be careful to 
follow it out. Make your quarters at the 
* Jolly Rover ' Inn, in Ship Street ; and report 
to Major Buckstone at headquarters between 
ten o'clock and noon each day." 

" And never let me hear of you or see you 
again," said old Seth Prentiss to Ezra, " until 
you have cleared yourself of all suspicion in 
this matter. As you stand now, George Pren- 
tiss, you are labeled in my mind as a traitor, 
as your brother Ezra is." 

Ezra said nothing ; he merely bent his head 
in a mute good-bye ; and with Scarlett set off 



through the dark court. A sergeant of gren- 
adiers bore them company ; it was his duty 
to see that they went to the " Jolly Rover " 
as directed, and also that they were not mo- 
lested by the guards that patrolled the streets. 

They passed from Sun Court into Fleet 
Street, and from thence into Ship Street. 
This was on the harbor front and was badly 
kept and worse lighted. At one end was what 
was known as the North Battery ; the wharves 
of merchants and dockyards of shipbuilders 
lined the water side of it; while upon the 
other were gloomy-fronted warehouses and 
the offices of shipmen of various degrees. 

Midway, at White Bread Alley, they came 
to the ''Jolly Rover." It was tightly closed ; 
not a light was to be seen. 

" We are all hard put to it because of the 
closing of the inns," said the sergeant of gren- 
adiers. " There is no place to spend a com- 
fortable hour when off duty of a night." 

He beat loudly upon the door. For a long 
time there was no result save the sharp sum- 
mons of a guard who rounded the corner of 
Foster Lane. 

" What's this ? " demanded the guard. 


*^ Have you no homes to go to that you are 
abroad at such an hour? And will nothing 
do but that you must make noise enough to 
wake the dead ? " 

*' Use your eyes and your lanthorn, soldier/' 
spoke the sergeant gruffly. "If we are abroad 
it is because we must be. And as for the 
noise, it is made but to carry out the gov- 
ernor's orders." 

The guard held up his light. Then, recog- 
nizing the sergeant, he saluted. 

** Our orders call for the apprehension of 
all found abroad after hours," apologized he. 

A nightcapped head, lighted up by a sput- 
tering candle, appeared at one of the upper 
windows of the inn. 

"What now?" demanded a rough voice. 
" Plague take you, neighbors, to go battering 
at an honorable man's door." 

" Come down and draw your bolts," said 
the sergeant of grenadiers. 

" Not I, indeed," answered the man in the 
nightcap, and with a promptness that caused 
both Ezra and Scarlett to laugh. " I obey the 
law, gentlemen ; no man in the town of Bos- 
ton minds it better. And the law says that 


all places of public entertainment must out 
with their lights and up with their shutters at 
sundown. '* 

** If you don't want your door in splinters, 
you'll come down and open it/' said the 
sergeant. " I bring you two persons whom you 
are to harbor, at command of General Gage." 

" That," replied the nightcapped one, in an 
altered tone, ** sets a different face upon the 
matter. Why did you not say so at once ? I 
will be down instantly." 

The candle vanished ; a little later, after a 
great deal of clatter and clinking of bars and 
chains, the door opened ; the man in the night- 
cap was shown to be a squat, broad-shouldered 
personage with gold rings in his ears and the 
aspect of a seafarer. 

" Now, open your ears," spoke the British 
sergeant, briefly. " And give heed to what 
I'm going to tell you." 

*' Ay, ay," replied the host of the " Jolly 

" These two are to lodge here and pay for 
their own entertainment. You are to report 
at headquarters at once if they are absent for 
more than a half day at a time." 


The landlord regarded the newcomers with 
no great favor. 

** I'll see to it," he growled. 

*^ Mind that you do. And, when I am 
gone, out with the lights and on with the bolts 
at once." 

So saying the British sergeant turned and 
stepped out into Ship Street once more. The 
door closed behind him ; the bars and chains 
went up, and again the man with the rings in 
his ears looked at his guests. 

" I will not say that I am pleased to have 
you,*' he told them with great frankness, ** for 
the custom of such as you brings little but 
trouble to an inn. I'll have soldiers about the 
place constantly ; and, if you are gentlemen of 
any consequence, spies will be as thick as flies . 
in August." 

" We are sorry to give you any trouble," 
said Ezra. " But we were directed to come 
here and could not well refuse." 

The man grinned. 

" I suppose not," said he. " Well, if it be 
any comfort for you to know it, you are not 
the only gentlemen in Boston who are in the 
black books of the King's officers. The town 


is full of suspected men. General Gage is a 
governor who acta mighty quickly in such 
matters, even if he won't," here the grin grew 
broader, " do the same in weightier things/' 

The flickering candle lit up the place but 
dimly ; the ceiling was low, the walls were 
paneled ; in furnishing and equipment the 
room resembled the cabin of a ship. 

Scarlett, who had been observing the land- 
lord, here remarked : 

" You are a man who has followed the sea in 
your day." 

The other nodded. 

" For a full forty year," he said. " Man and 
boy IVe spliced, knotted, hauled and reefed 
in every kind of craft that's sailed from here 
to the Horn, and from there to the China 

" A tarry, healthy profession," commented 
Scarlett. " I have known many shipmen in 
my day, and they have been mostly sound fel- 
lows and honest." 

The man took off* his nightcap and scratched 
his head. 

" As to health," said he, " I agree with you. 
But there have been as big rascals walked the 


decks of ships as any they've ever bred ashore. 
I remember when I sailed my last voyage in 
the * Champion/ we had a skipper that was 
as great a villain as ever robbed his em- 

At the mention of the vessel's name, Ezra 
became more attentive. 

''The 'Champion'?" said he. "What 
owners ? " 

" Prentiss & Son, Boston." 

Scarlett gave Ezra a quick look. The boy 
regarded the innkeeper with interest. 

" I recall the old ' Champion ' very well. 
Her timbers are now rotting on a reef in the 
South Pacific," said he. 

" Hello," said the man with the rings in his 
ears. He peered at the boy through the can- 
dle-light. " And who might you be? " 

" My name is Prentiss," answered the lad. 
" I am the son of James Prentiss, one of the 
* Champion's' owners." 

The man thrust out a great broad hand. 

" Young gentleman," said he, " if you'll do 
me the honor, I'd like to shake your hand.'* 

Ezra smiled and gripped the big paw. 

*' Your father," continued the other, " was 


the finest man in this colony. I've sailed for 
many owners, but he was the best of them all. 
Your grandfather now/' and the ex-sailor's 
expression of admiration greatly changed, 
" was a most excellent merchant. But he ex- 
pected much and gave but little. That little 
was, to be sure, regularly and promptly paid ; 
but that is the best I can say. 

" But James Prentiss was different. He 
had a heart in his body for a sailorman. 
And if one went out of his way to serve him, 
he'd see to it that he was properly rewarded." 

" A good quality," commented Scarlett, ap- 
provingly. " It is a proof of appreciation and 
also encourages effort." 

" Quite so, comrade," replied the host. " It 
does that very thing ; and I can prove it to 
you. On the last voyage of the * Champion,' 
she had for her master a Hingham man named 
Pickering. I was her first mate and she car- 
ried a mixed cargo for trading among the 
islands. Pickering was a man who believed 
in handspikes and belaying pins in his treat- 
ment of the crew, and he was not long out be- 
fore they were all but in a state of mutiny. 

" This proved a fortunate thing for Prentiss 


& Son," continued the landlord. '* We ran on 
the reef one moonlight night with a light wind 
blowing and Pickering at the wheel. So when 
he proposed to abandon ship and cargo with- 
out an effort to save either, I objected." 

'* He must have been a coward as well as a 
bully," spoke Ezra. 

** No, he was a knave. I'd never suspected 
the true reason of it all if it hadn't been for 
the bos'n. He'd noticed the same sail hang- 
ing in our wake for three days, and he spoke 
to me of it. Then I saw the real truth. 
Pickering had laid the * Champion * on the 
rocks deliberately. Then his plan was for all 
hands to make away ; the stranger was to ap- 
proach, quietly take in our cargo, and Prentiss 
& Son would be the poorer for a fortune." 

" A very complete rascal, indeed," said Scar- 
lett. "What did you do?" 

** Clapped him in irons and warned the 
strange vessel off with a show of six-pounders. 
Afterward I got a brig at Valparaiso, put the 
cargo into her, and disposed of it to good ad- 
vantage in the regular way. For that service 
old Seth Prentiss paid me a first mate's wages ; 
but his son," turning to Ezra, " your father, was 


more open-handed. It was through him that 
I could at last afford to give up the sea and 
buy out the 'Jolly Rover.' " 

They talked in the same strain for a while 
longer. But a patrol, knocking loudly at the 
door and bidding them extinguish the light, 
at last put an end to it. 

The seaman innkeeper led his guests to 
their rooms. 

** I can give you no light," said he, " and 
I'm main sorry for it. But you can manage 
to sleep without it, I'm sure." 

He had said good-night to both, when he 
knocked at Ezra's door and reopened it. 

** Lad," said he in a low tone, " your father 
was a friend to me. And if I, William Stacey, 
can do anything for you or your friend at any 
time, all you have to do is to give it a name." 

"Thank you, Mr. Stacey," replied Ezra, 
gratefully. *' I'll remember that." 

The meeting with William Stacey was a 
most fortunate thing for Ezra. He and Scar- 
lett, before many days had passed, found 
that they could not take a step without a spy 
being at their heels. Their every action, so it 
seemed, was noted by a sharp-eyed stranger. 


They at length mentioned this to Stacey ; he 
grinned and observed : 

*^ I didn't expect anything else, gentlemen. 
People like you are left at liberty so that 
you'll in the end lead Gage's spies to some- 
thing worth paying attention to. But I think 
I can help you at times when you especially 
want to escape their notice." 

And this he did very successfully. Changes 
of clothing and large wigs, which were then 
generally worn, combed in various ways, 
served to throw the spies off the scent at such 
times as they were worn. And the two made 
the rounds of the city in all the guises that 
Stacey's supply of " slops " could provide them 
with. As sailors, mechanics and common 
loafers, they sought information as to the 
British distribution of force ; each battery waa 
carefully marked in their minds, for they 
dared put nothing upon paper ; and each item 
of whispered news that was picked up was re- 

They soon learned that Gage feared an up- 
rising of the townspeople in case the city 
should be attacked. He knew that the citi- 
zens had rifles in plenty ; and to prevent any 


possible use of them, he caused it to be made 
public that in case the town arose against his 
troops, he'd give it over to the torch and take 
to his ships. 

Then it was proposed that all those who 
would lodge their weapons at Faneuil Hall 
might depart from the city with their 
families and effects. Thousands immediately 
complied with this ; for a time it seemed that 
all Boston was on the move. The Provincial 
Congress made an equally liberal move. All 
Tories who desired to enter the city were per- 
mitted to do so. But finally the outgoing 
townspeople received a check. 

" The Tories under Ruggles," William 
Stacey told Ezra, " think it a bad policy to 
let them go. They claim that the Whig in- 
habitants are necessary to save the town from 
assault and conflagration. They also threaten 
to lay down their arms and give the King^a 
cause no further aid if the people are not 
kept within the lines." 

The late days of April had passed and May 
was well advanced. From without the news 
came of the progress of the American cause. 
Recruits were reported to be coming strongly 


into their camp. Their works were growing in 
extent and strength day by day. A Conti- 
nental Congress had met at Philadelphia and 
were considering the matter of a commander- 
in-chief for the colonial army and assuming 
the general direction of the war. 

One day in May, Ezra saw General Putnam 
march about twenty-five hundred Americans 
from Cambridge to Charlestown, which was 
deserted by its population. This little army 
crossed Bunker and Breed^s Hills, came out 
by Captain Henly's house, and passed into 
the main street near the old ferry. This was 
to inspire the army with confidence ; they 
had gotten within gunshot of the enemy 
when they were ordered back, and so re- 
turned to Cambridge. 

A spirited fight took place on the 17th 
near Wheeler's Point. On the 21st, two 
sloops and an armed schooner sailed out of 
Boston, being so ordered by General Gage. 
They carried a detachment of troops to Grape 
Island, their purpose being to seize upon a 
quantity of hay which was stored there. 
Scarlett got the facts of this expedition 
and related them to Ezra with great gusto. 


" The vessels landed the troops on the 
island and the hay was being placed on 
board. But they were not long undisturbed. 
The bells began to ring at Weymouth ; the 
people assembled on a point of land near the 
island and fired at the troops. But their 
rifles could not carry so far. Then General 
Thomas, who, I understand, is an officer of 
experience, came up with three companies of 
your farmer soldiers. Though under fire of 
the vessels, these launched a lighter and a 
sloop and so reached the island. The British, 
like churls, never waited them, but took to 
their craft and sailed back to Boston. 

" Your friends, so I have heard, burned 
some eighty tons of hay which they could 
not take off; and also a barn was destroyed. 
The cattle on the island were then taken to 

Some time later there were like encounters 
at Hog and Noddles Islands near Chelsea. 
General Putnam and Dr. Warren both took 
part in these affairs. The British lost about 
twenty killed and fifty wounded, besides 
some swivels and light guns. 

The fights on the islands became so fre- 


quent that the Americans began to venture 
out with small armed craft and some suc- 
cesses were had, which excited the ire of the 
British sea-dogs in command of the heavy 
ships in the bay. 

About this time the army of Gage was 
largely reinforced; a number of troop ships 
arrived, also large quantities of stores, and a 
fleet of vessels of war. Thus encouraged, the 
British governor on June 12th issued his 
famous proclamation in which he threatened 
all " rebels and traitors " and offered pardon 
to those who should lay down their arms. 
In this latter Samuel Adams and John Han- 
cock were excepted. It was Gage's inten- 
tion to punish them, so he said, as their 
actions deserved. 

'' It will serve one good purpose," said Ezra 
in speaking of the proclamation to his com- 
panion, Scarlett. " It will rouse the people 
to a greater anger than before." 

''Gage is a very dull-witted gentleman," 
replied Scarlett. '' He once had a chance to 
add a person of experience," here he twirled 
his moustaches, '' to his command, but, by his 
insults and insinuations, lost him for good." 


** He has those now, who will perhaps 
prove to be of quicker thought," said Ezra. 
** Generals Clinton, Howe and Burgoyne ar- 
rived in the frigate * Cerberus ' some little 
time since. Their hands will be felt, I fear, 
when the time comes to strike a blow at the 
colonial army.'^ 

" General Gage is going to send forces to oc- 
cupy Dorchester Heights and the two hills 
near Charlestown," said William Stacey, upon 
the day after the proclamation. " He now 
has ten thousand men and is beginning to take 
pride in his strength. '^ 

Reports ran riot through the city. The 
British troops, privates and officers both, took 
on a different aspect. Their appearance grew 
smarter ; they stepped with a jauntier tread, 
their spirits were higher. They paraded more 
frequently ; their drums seemed to beat more 
briskly ; their fifes to squeal more shrilly. 
More artillery was put ashore ; the gunboats 
and armed craft of lighter draught became 
much more enterprising. 

From these indications Ezra Prentiss drew 
that there was something of moment about to 
happen. But the exact nature of it all, for he 


could place no dependence upon the gossip 
that reached him, was not made known to 
him until the morning of the fifteenth of June 
when he and Scarlett went to make their daily 
report to Major Buckstone. 

That bluff, honest old soldier was seated 
frowning over some papers. 

** Hah I " said he to Ezra, as the sentry led 
them in, ** here is a communication just come 
to me regarding you, young sir. It will re- 
quire your attention at once.'* 

Ezra took the paper from the major's hand 
and scanned it. It ran as follows : 

** Major Buckstone : 

*' Sir : — When George Prentiss, my grand- 
son, next reports to you, inform him that his 
presence is required at my house in Sun Court 
at once. 

*' Your obliged and humble servant, 

" Seth Prentiss." 

"I will go immediately,'' said the boy. 
" Thank you, Major Buckstone." 

They left the headquarters and proceeded 
along the street in the direction of the old 
merchant's mansion. 


*' Something/' said Gilbert Scarlett, " is in 
the air. Within an hour you will be much 
wiser than you are now at this moment." 

*' It must be of more than ordinary impor- 
tance/' said Ezra. *^ For he said on that last 
night at his house, you remember, that he 
never wanted to see me or hear of me again." 

" Until you had cleared yourself of mishan- 
dling Major Buckstone's dispatch," the other 
reminded him. ** Perhaps the chance has now 
come for you to do that." 

The two parted at the point where Fish 
Street opened into Prince's ; Scarlett went his 
way toward the "Jolly Rover," while Ezra 
continued along Prince's until he reached Sun 

The boy's knock brought an immediate 
answer. The grave-faced man servant showed 
his pleasure at sight of the youth. 

" Your grandfather has been expecting you, 
Master George," said he. " I will tell him 
that you have arrived." 

To be constantly forced to move under false 
colors was a bitter thing for Ezra. He was a 
lad who was frankness itself and one who de- 
tested methods that smacked of trickery. But 


to have all in Boston continue to believe him 
to be his brother George he felt was necessary 
if he was to aid the colonial cause. There 
was not a moment of his stay in Boston, dur- 
ing this period, or a time that he answered to 
his brother's name, that his honesty and 
shame did not urge him to proclaim himself. 
But he stubbornly held this impulse in 

" If it were a matter of my own," he fre- 
quently told himself, ** I could act as I saw fit. 
But this matter is not my own." 

His grandfather greeted him in his library, 
a stately room filled with morning sunshine, 
and furnished after the stiff fashion of that 
day. Seated at a window with a tall volume 
upon his knees, was a striking-looking ofiicer, 
attired in the brilliant uniform of a British 

*' I would not have thought you interested 
in such things as this, Mr. Prentiss," this gen- 
tleman was saying, not noticing the boy's en- 
trance. *^ It denotes rare judgment and taste 
in the binding. And the book itself is very 
rare," with much admiration. " I know of 
only one other in existence." 


" The gathering of such was a folly of my 
son's/' said the old man sternly. 

" Folly I " The soldier laughed amusedly. 
** Well, that's all to one's taste, I suppose. 
But for my part, the more follies of this sort," 
nodding toward a great heap of other books 
which he apparently had already inspected, 
" a man possesses, the more apt I would be to 
like him." 

" And he was not alone in his folly," siaid 
the old merchant. " He left two sons, both of 
whom have inherited more or less of his man- 
ner of thought." He gestured grimly toward 
Ezra as he added : *' This is one of them." 

The general looked over his shoulder at 
the boy ; then he arose, brushing traces of 
dust, left by the books, from his immaculate 
uniform. He was a polished man of the 
world, plainly a scholar and unquestionably 
a gentleman. 

" Ah, yes," said he. He took a step toward 
Ezra and held out his hand. '* I ask your 
pardon," he continued, *' and am greatly 
pleased to see you." 

** This is General Burgoyne," said old Mr. 
Prentiss to Ezra. " He happens to be here, hav- 


ing heard of the library, and will no doubt join 
with me in what I am about to say to you.'* 

The officer smiled pleasantly at Ezra. 

" I have heard of your case from Major 
Buckstone," said he. He was about to pro- 
ceed, but the merchant interrupted him. 

** And no doubt," said Seth Prentiss, " you 
think the transaction a rascally and traitor- 
ous one." 

** I never make up my mind to things," 
answered Burgoyne, " until I have sounded 
them for myself." 

He reseated himself and took up the book 
which had before engaged his attention. 
There was the same pleasant smile upon his 
face ; he delicately turned the leaves and con- 
tinued : 

*' I give your grandson far too much credit 
for clear understanding than to believe him 
in any way connected with this absurd con- 
dition which," with a laugh, ** the colonists 
call a siege. That ten thousand peasants can 
coop up an equal number of the King's trained 
troops is too monstrous for any sane mind to 
believe. But Gage is a good-natured gentle- 
man who believes in mild measures. Since 


Clinton and Howe have arrived, things will 
be vastly different. Let us get among the 
rebels and we'll soon find elbow-room." 

With that he gave his attention to the 
precious volume which he held on his knee. 
The merchant turned to his grandson. 

" I told you when I last saw you, that I 
was done with you until you had redeemed 
yourself. I had not thought to help you in 
any way, but it appears that blood is thicker 
than water, and I want to give you a chance 
of proving to me and His Majesty's governor 
and officers that you are not what you have 
appeared to be.'* 

Ezra inclined his head, but was silent. 

" Within a few days there will be a hap- 
pening that " 

The handsome head of General Burgoyne 
was lifted from the book like a flash. There 
was a ring of reproof in his voice, as he cut 
the old man short. 

" It would be well to specify nothing," said 

"And I desire to hear nothing of the 
King's business from you, sir," said Ezra, 


Much as the young patriot desired to serve 
the cause of liberty, he could not bear to do 
so at the expense of his grandfather. He 
felt that it would be shameful to take advan- 
tage of the old man's unguarded eagerness. 

A flush stained the old merchant's hard 
face. He bowed to Burgoyne. 

" I ask your pardon," said he. " In my 
anxiety to give my grandson this chance to 
reestablish himself, I had forgotten more im- 
portant things." 

" I understand perfectly," said the general, 
once more smiling. " The thing was natural 
enough." He turned toward Ezra, his well- 
kept hands caressing the book. " It will be 
sufficient for you to know that there will soon 
be an opportunity for all loyal subjects of 
King George to show that they are such." 
He paused a moment, then went on : " It 
would be well for you to take advantage of 
this at once. There has been talk of curtail- 
ing your liberty to some extent." 

A thrill of dismay ran through the boy. 

" That means imprisonment," he thought. 
" If I don't join with the British, I'll be 
clapped in irons." 


But he concealed his feelings. His face was 
unruffled as he made reply. 

'* I thank you, General Burgoyne, for the 
hint. You may rely upon me to act for the 

The officer shot Ezra a penetrating glance. 
But he said nothing, and with a little shrug, 
he turned to his book. 

" And now,*' said the merchant, " that is 
all. I feel that I have done my duty toward 
you. It remains for you to do the rest. Har- 
rison," as the servant answered his pull at the 
bell-cord, " show this young gentleman ouf 

Once in the street, Ezra made all haste to 
the " Jolly Rover.'' 

'* Something must be done at once," he mut- 
tered. " I'll have to contrive to leave Boston 
within twenty-four hours, or I'm done for." 

The first persons he saw at the inn were 
Scarlett and the landlord in close converse in 
a far corner of the long room. Scarlett beck- 
oned him at once, and the boy approached 

** Sit down," said the soldier of fortune, 
" and as there are two of our shadows keeping 
us under observation, I would suggest that 


you do not allow anything that we might say 
to make you change countenance." 

'^ You have news then ? " questioned Ezra. 

'' Most urgent news for you at least," said 
Gilbert Scarlett. 

He pulled up his soft leather boots and 
twirled one point of his moustache. 

** At first," said he, " like the others here I 
was not at all sure as to which side you 
favored in this struggle. But since becoming 
more intimate with you, I have discovered at 
least enough," laughing, *' to make up my 

** A son of James Prentiss could not be for 
anything else than liberty," said the ex-first 
mate of the ** Champion," stoutly. 

"Thank you, Mr. Stacey," said Ezra, 

" Well," said the adventurer, " let's to our 
news. It has transpired," he proceeded to 
Ezra, ** that General Gage will at last make a 
move. A large body of troops will cross the 
river with entrenching tools within the next 
three nights." 

** But you don't know exactly when or 
where ? " 


" No/' replied the innkeeper as the other 
hesitated. " I had the news from a source 
that can't be wrong ; but it went no farther 
than to say that the movement would be car- 
ried out within three nights." 

Ezra sat for a moment regarding his 

*' There are two reasons, then," he said at 
length, " why I should leave Boston at once." 

The others said nothing, but waited for 
what was to come. 

" I must warn General Ward," continued 
the boy. *' That is the first and most impor- 
tant. The second is that I must keep myself 
out of a dungeon." 

** Your visit to your grandfather, then, has 
not been without result," hazarded the soldier 
of fortune shrewdly. 

** No," said Ezra. " On the contrary, what 
I heard there was sharp and definite enough." 
Then he turned to the innkeeper. **Mr. 
Stacey, I will trouble you to-night for one of 
your suits of slops and any other thing that 
may be useful in hiding my identity. If you 
can also direct me to a place where a boat is 
to be had, I shall be much in your debt," 


" No son of your father^s can speak of be- 
ing in my debt/' said the old sailor. He 
pondered a moment while the others watched 
him. Then he proceeded : ^' A disguise is 
simple enough. But a boat is a different 
matter. However, I think I can do it." 
Then he laid a hand upon Ezra's arm. 
** You are running a great risk in making 
such a venture." 

** I would be running one equally great if I 
did not take it," replied the boy. 

^* The waters all about the city are fairly 
choked with armed craft," said Scarlett. 
'' How can we pass them and get fairly 

''We?" said Ezra. 

*' Why, to be sure, we." The speaker ges- 
tured his entire acceptance of the situation. 
*' Do you forget that I promised to stand your 
friend if you needed one ? " 

'' I would shake your hand, comrade," 
spoke Ezra, much touched, '' if it were not for 
our being watched." 

" Don't give me too much credit," laughed 
Scarlett, his moustaches pointing upward. 
" You forget that if you stand a chance of go- 


ing to a dungeon, I would not be far behind 
you ; for I am not much beyond their sus- 

*' You are right," said Ezra, " and that 
makes it easier for me to accept your offer." 
He bent his head toward them and his voice 
lowered. " It will be a desperate risk, no 
doubt. But, somehow, I feel that if there is a 
chance to make the crossing, we will do it." 

*' Spoken like a lad of mettle," commented 
the landlord of the *' Jolly Rover." " That is 
the sort of spirit that carries a man well on his 
way in anything he undertakes." 

The remainder of the day they spent to- 
gether in one of the upper chambers, where 
they would be well out of the way of all pry- 
ing eyes and listening ears. 

** There is a brig tied up at Burrough's 
wharf, just opposite Battery Alley," said the 
innkeeper. " Her skipper is still aboard of 
her and he is an old shipmate of mine. I can 
get a dory from him if the case be made plain 
to his understanding. Then we can put into it 
some fishing-tackle, floats, trawls and such like 
as was used by the fishermen who once drew 
their living from the harbor." 


" An excellent idea," applauded Scarlett. 
** It reminds me of a little experience I had 
once in the Bosphorus while I was in the 
service of the Moslem. And if this ends as 
fortunately as that, we shall do very well, in- 

As it was found necessary to get some idea 
of the anchorage of the heavy vessels and the 
patrolling guard of the smaller, the ex-seaman 
got out a long glass and they ascended to the 
garret, where from one of the dusty windows 
they could sweep the bay. 

Ships of the line and frigates were there in 
plenty. Heavy troop ships, and others which 
had lately arrived with cargoes of supplies, lay 
sluggishly tugging at their chains. 

** There is nothing to be feared from the sea- 
ward," said Stacey. " So there is little or no 
activity. The smaller vessels are further up 
in the rivers. So your best plan, as I see it, 
is to take a small lug-sail in the bottom of 
your boat, pull straight out into the harbor, 
and when you think you are beyond the dan- 
ger line, up with your sail and head for the 
nearest safe point that you can make." 

This seemed a most excellent piece of ad- 


vice, and after some discussion it was adopted. 
As night drew on the two ate a hearty supper. 

" It will help both our strength and our 
courage," said Scarlett. *' My experience has 
taught me that a well cared for stomach is a 
most necessary thing in an adventure." 

It was eleven o'clock when they donned 
some worn fisherman's clothing and each a 
tarpaulin hat. Both wore their hair clubbed 
in seafaring fashion ; and with them they 
carried the trawl-lines and other equipment 
that Stacey provided. 

The latter had preceded them ; so they stole 
along, keeping in the deepest shadows, toward 
Burrough's wharf. They narrowly escaped 
several guards ; but at last came safely to the 
place where the brig was tied up. The dory 
was ready ; and Stacey and his friend the 
skipper were awaiting them. 

" There are two strong sweeps, a mast and 
sail in the bottom of her," the innkeeper told 
them. " Keep your minds clear as to the po- 
sition of the war-ships and guard vessels ; pull 
straight out of the harbor between them, if 
you can. It is a moonless night, and so far 
the luck is with you." 


The speaker shook their hands as did the 
brig's master. 

** I'm taking a risk in doing this," said the 
latter. *' But, then, every man must do what 
he can for the cause, and this is my share for 
the time." 

There were low-voiced good-byes spoken, 
then Ezra and Scarlett stepped into the dory, 
slipped the sweeps into place, headed out into 
the dark harbor and gave way. 

More and more distant grew the few mili- 
tary lights on shore. Nearer and nearer drew 
the belt of ship lights ; and the vessels them- 
selves began to lift their dark bulks out of the 
water like huge monsters of the deep, watch- 
ful, waiting, full of silent terrors. 



The night was moonless and without stars ; 
a fresh breeze was blowing from the landward ; 
this, together with the strong strokes of the 
rowers, drove the dory forward at a good rate 
of speed. 

Two tall ranges of lights were visible directly 
ahead and the oarsmen headed to pass in the 
thick murk between them. And this they 
would have safely done had it not been for the 
unforeseen. The little craft was driving along 
in fine style, when suddenly out of the dark- 
ness loomed the towering bulk of a ship with- 
out lights. Before they could prevent it, the 
dory fouled the chains ; Scarlett was thrown 
from his seat amid a clatter of oars. 

A sharp outcry came from the ship's deck. 
Feet were heard running forward and lights 
began to flash. 

" Quick I " breathed Ezra, dragging the dis- 


comfited adventurer into his seat. " To your 
oars before they make us out." 

Scarlett had just recovered his stroke and 
pushed the boat away from the ship's bow, when 
a solid shot, directed by the owner of a pair 
of sharp eyes, fell into the water beside them. 
Had they delayed another moment, it would 
have dropped into the boat, stove in the bot- 
tom and sunk them. 

But they not only escaped this by their 
quick recovery, but also escaped the lights 
that were lowered over the side. 

** It was a clever trick," spoke Scarlett, 
guardedly. *' They kept no lights burning, 
for the purpose of entrapping any one that 
should attempt to steal by." 

They pulled noiselessly away, out into the 
harbor and into the thick of the British ships. 
They heard the creaking of blocks as boats 
were lowered from the vessel with which they 
had collided ; then they heard the splash of 
their oars. But they continued their strong, 
regular tugging at the sweeps, and gradually 
left the sounds behind. One by one they 
passed the ships ; once, indeed, there came a 
doubtful hail ; but they rested upon their 


oars for a full ten minutes and it was not re- 
peated. Finally, as far as they could make 
out, they were free of all obstacles and fell to 
the sweeps with a will. 

In a little while again, they stepped the 
mast and hoisted the lug-sail. The breeze 
caught and filled this, and away the boat 
swept into the darkness, like a night-bird 
skimming the surface of the sea. 

After a good hour's running they began to 
beat to and fro ; but when the first glimmer 
of dawn struck the water they found them- 
selves between Spectacle and Castle Islands ; 
sighting Dorchester Point, they put for it with 
the lug full of wind, for several small sail of 
a suspicious nature were in plain view toward 
Thompson's Island. 

As the dory neared the point, the Amer- 
ican sentinels sighted it ; there was a three- 
gun battery planted at no great distance, and 
this was trained upon the flying little craft. 
Some difficulty was had in getting ashore, 
and when they had scrambled to solid ground, 
they found a file of men, ununiformed, but 
armed with long-barreled rifles and in charge 
of a youthful lieutenant. 


" You will please give an account of your- 
selves," announced this latter in a business- 
like tone of voice. 

Scarlett sat down, drew off his boots and 
emptied the water from them. Ezra, how- 
ever, gave his attention to the lieutenant. 

** Sir," said he, " we are sympathizers of the 
colonies who have just made our way out of 
Boston through the fleet." 

The young officer, who wore a new, spick 
and span blue uniform turned up with red, 
regarded them suspiciously. 

** That," said he, with a glance out at the 
ominous black hulks that were now plainly 
showing through a faint early morning mist, 
" would be a hard thing to do." 

" It was," smiled Ezra, " and good fortune 
alone enabled us to accomplish it." 

The young lieutenant, proud of his new 
trappings and his new office, saw fit to regard 
the two with great suspicion. 

'* My orders are to apprehend any one 
coming from the seaward," spoke he, im- 
portantly. " So it will be my duty to hold 
you until the colonel arrives to inspect this 


" And when will that be ? " asked Gilbert 

*' Toward noon, or perhaps somewhat later," 
replied the lieutenant. 

The soldier of fortune drew on his wet boots 
and stood up. 

" Sir," observed he, his legs wide apart and 
his thumbs hooked in his belt, " you seem to 
have very little notion as to the value of time. 
We have but a few hours to go about the busi- 
ness of saving the colonial army." 

The youthful officer started at this. But 
there was that in the hectoring tone of Gil- 
bert Scarlett which he did not like. So he 
frowned and said sharply : 

" If you have anything to impart my com- 
mission, issued by the Provincial Congress, 
makes me a proper person to hear it." 

That the speaker was right, even though 
unnecessarily stubborn, Ezra saw at once. 
But with the hot-headed adventurer it was 
a dififerent matter. 

Without more ado, he whipped out his long 
sword, and addressed the lieutenant with care- 
less superiority. 

" Step to one side," directed he, " and have 


your fellows do the same, or I'll contrive a 
piece of work for you that none of you will 

The lieutenant spoke swiftly to his men. 
They threw forward their rifles ; and Ezra had 
just sprung between them and Scarlett when 
there came a quiet, chuckling voice, saying : 

*' Hot work. Master Prentiss I Hot work, 
upon my word ! '* 

All eyes went toward the point from where 
the voice proceeded ; and all, even to the 
angry Scarlett and the stubborn lieutenant, 
burst into a laugh. 

Upon a large flat stone, at no great distance, 
sat a dwarfish figure. The short legs were 
crossed Turkish fashion, and the huge head, 
with its stiff" crest of hair, was bent forward, 
the chin resting upon his palms. 

** What ! *' said Ezra, astonished, " Is it you. 

The imp grinned, showing his strong white 

" It is no one else," answered he, arising. 
" I had just come down this way to look about 
me before the others were awake. And," with 
a look at Scarlett, " it's a good thing that I 


have. Your friend there seems to want to get 
himself into mischief." 

Scarlett sheathed his sword with a flourish. 

'^ 1 crave the pardon of your assured small- 
ness," said he with a sweep of his feathered 
hat. " It is a trick of the temper that lasts 
but a moment. I also," turning to the lieu- 
tenant, "ask pardon of you, sir." 

The young officer nodded stiffly and 
gestured the long rifles away. Then he 
turned and gave ear to the dwarf, who claimed 
his attention. 

" Porcupine, you call him ? " said Scarlett, 
his eyes traveling over the stunted body. 
" And a very good name it is, indeed. Was 
there ever such a stiff crest of hair upon a 
human before ? Haveyou known him long ? " 

" He rode with myself and some friends 
from Philadelphia last fall," replied Ezra, 
** and proved himself of value to us all. He is 
faithful, watchful, shrewd and has uncommon 

" Excellent I " cried the soldier of fortune, 
with high admiration. *^ In those you have 
some beautiful qualities for so small a youth." 

At the Porcupine's low-spoken words, the 


face of the American lieutenant changed in ex- 

" If Master Brewster and his friends will 
vouch for these gentlemen/' said he, "that 
will be enough for me." 

" I will fetch them at once," said the dwarf. 

Ezra advanced a step or two eagerly. 

'* You don't mean to say that Nat is here- 
abouts I " said he. 

The Porcupine grinned and replied : 

** Not only Nat, but Ben and George as well. 
We all rode this way yesterday, after a journey 
which we had been on for Dr. Warren to the 
lower counties." 

" Then make haste and tell them of this," 
said Ezra, delighted. " Tell them that it is of 
great importance that they should come at 

" I'm oflF," said the Porcupine. And away 
he darted, his short legs twinkling at a most 
marvelous speed. 

" It will all be arranged without difficulty 
in a little time now," said Ezra to the adven- 

" Fortune favors us in spite of my bad 
temper," replied Scarlett. Then he added, 


after the fashion of a philosopher : " Never 
allow your dependence upon your sword to 
become your greatest asset. It is a mistake. 
The wise man always waits until the end be- 
fore he takes matters into his own keeping. 
For at the last moment, Fortune may fling her 
rarest gifts at his feet." 

The lieutenant now spoke. 

** In these days, gentlemen," said he, " one 
cannot be too careful. I am dangerously 
placed here, and with but few men. I can, 
therefore, afford to trust nobody." 

*' Sir," said Scarlett promptly and with a 
wave of the hand, "say no more about it. 
You are young and unaccustomed to your 
work ; but you have done well for all." 

The lieutenant was fully as old as the 
speaker ; and he was regarding Scarlett with a 
puzzled look, when there came a clatter of 
hoofs upon the road and up dashed Ben 
Cooper, George Prentiss and Nat Brewster, 
the latter bearing the dwarf before him in the 

With one accord they leaped to the ground 
and clustered about Ezra with cries of wel- 
come and delight. 


*' Why, it's a good month since you left us/* 
cried Ben. 

" We'd all but given you up for dead," said 
George, gravely. 

*^ But we're glad to have you back," spoke 
Nat Brewster, quietly. " The cause would be 
the poorer for the loss of Ezra Prentiss." 

" Master Brewster," and the lieutenant ad- 
dressed Nat, whose grave manner always 
caused him to be selected from the group 
upon occasions like this, " these gentlemen 
but a short time ago landed here in a boat. 
They claim to have come from Boston, and 
this one," indicating Ezra, " claims to be ac- 
quainted with you." 

*^ I can vouch for him," cried Nat, his 
strong hand upon Ezra's shoulder, " and," 
with a quick look at Scarlett, *' if this gentle- 
man is a friend of his, I can vouch for him 

** While my acquaintance with him is 
something less than two months' duration," 
said Ezra, " I can safely say that he is a friend 
in everything that the term implies." 

Nat shook Scarlett by the hand, and Ben, 
George and the Porcupine followed in their 


turn ; and as they did so, Ezra told the ad- 
venturer their names. 

" I have heard of you all many times," said 
Scarlett with vast satisfaction. *^ And I have 
listened to some of your experiences of nights 
at our inn, the * Jolly Rover.' After hearing 
them, and seeing you, I can say that it all 
affords me much pleasure." 

** I recall Ezra telling us of you after his 
return from Chelmsford some time since," 
said Nat. " He said that you appeared to be 
a gentleman of parts." 

The adventurer assumed his favorite atti- 

" If experience makes for quality, I am to 
be pardoned if I claim it," said he. " I was 
younger than the youngest of you when I 
fought my first field, and since then I have 
seen service under many flags." All the 
time he spoke, and in fact before he began, 
his eyes went alternately from Ezra to George 
and back again. Now he broke off his re- 
marks and addressed the latter : ** Your 
name, sir, is ?" 

" George Prentiss," replied the boy. 

Scarlett turned to Ezra. 


'' Your grandfather called you George/^ 
said he, shrewdly. 

'' Because of a mistake/' said Ezra, his face 
flushed as he called to mind the fact that the 
mistake was not corrected. 

The soldier of fortune seemed to divine this 
feeling ; he slapped Ezra upon the back. 

** No/' said he, " never be ashamed that 
you did not undeceive him. What you did 
was for the best.'' Then, with another look 
at George, ** I scarcely blame the old gentle- 
man for his blunder. Your brother is most 
marvelously like you." 

Here George said eagerly to Ezra : 

*' You have seen grandfather ? " 

" Twice while in Boston. He is well." 

** But as staunch for the King as ever? " 


They had left the guard and were making 
their way along a narrow road, the horses, un- 
der care of the Porcupine, following. Nat 
now spoke. 

" That you have been in Boston," said he 
to Ezra, " is astonishing news. But that you 
have slipped out again seems almost impossi- 


" Yet here we are," smiled Ezra. 

" But tell us about it/^ urged Ben Cooper, 
his round, good-natured face full of expect- 
ancy. ** We are all but gaping to hear it.'' 

So with that, as they walked along, Ezra 
related how on that April night at Charles- 
town, he had been seized with a desire to 
venture toward the " Indian's Head." Then 
how he met with the spy Pennington, and 
also, for the second time, with Scarlett. 
From the experiences at the inn, he went to 
the crossing of the river, the interview with 
his grandfather and General Gage and the 
long stay at the '' Jolly Rover" in Ship Street. 
But when the latter part of the story was 
told, the eyes of Nat, George and Ben opened 
widely ; the Porcupine, back with the horses, 
executed a caper in the road. 

"An attack!" said Nat, his face all alight. 

" At last ! " cried George, with an involun- 
tary tug at his belt. 

*' We'll make them run as we did before," 
declared Ben Cooper. 

But, as was usual, Nat's was the practical 

"It is good news," said he, "and we are all 


glad of it. But the next move, I think, is to 
get it to the ears of General Ward." 

A chorus of assent followed this. In a few 
minutes they reached an encampment of 
colonists ; to a gray-haired captain, a veteran 
of the Louisburg, Nat represented the case as 
far as he saw fit and asked that two mounts 
be loaned them. 

**We haven't horses enough for our own 
use," said the captain. " But if it is, as you 
say, a matter of great importance, why of 
course you must be accommodated." 

Accordingly the nags were brought forward 
and saddled. Then all six, with the dwarf 
riding with Nat, mounted and rode off at a 
smart canter, heading for Cambridge and 
General Ward. 



As the six dashed along the morning roads 
toward Roxbury, Ezra noted much improve- 
ment in the American position ; and those 
works that were in view had grown stronger 
and much more formidable than heretofore. 

" It is right cleverly laid out," commented 
Gilbert Scarlett, whose keen, dark eyes missed 
nothing. " I am more struck with admiration 
of your farmer and mechanic soldiery the 
more I see of them." 

" I can see," said Nat Brewster, who rode 
with him, " that you have been barkening to 
the stories that the British have to tell about 
us. They call us impudent peasants who, in 
ignorance of what we are about, dare to face 
the army of the King. But that is mere 
bluster and affectation. Those officers among 
the British who have any experience in the 
warfare of the colonies, know that we have 
leaders who are perhaps their superiors." 



Scarlett smiled. 

*' Almost/' said he, " do you surpass our 
young friend Prentiss in attachment to the 

" It is the cause of my country," said Nat, 

A look of something like sadness came into 
the adventurer's face. 

" It must be a fine thing, indeed, to feel 
like that," said he moodily. ** As I have men- 
tioned, I have served many causes — but never 
that of my own country, because I have no 

Nat looked at him inquiringly. 

" I was born in Lisbon, of an English 
mother and an Italian father," said Scarlett, 
** and in my childhood, you might say the 
world was my cradle. My father followed the 
wars and my mother followed him. And 
when they died, I took up their task of wan- 
dering. This sword," and his hand rested 
upon the heavy hilt, " was my father's, and I 
have carried it from Muscovy to the Floridas ; 
and it has profited me no more than the cloth 
you see upon my back." 

" You have lived and fought in old coun- 


tries, or among old peoples," spoke Nat, 
eagerly. " But here is a new land, a new peo- 
ple. In the years to come, by the righteous- 
ness of our cause and the strength of our arms, 
we'll stand free and alone. Make this your 
country. Draw your blade for it. And when 
all is done, it will not forget you." 

Scarlett's eyes sparkled ; he looked at Nat 
with admiration. 

" That's well spoken," said he, " and you 
all but persuade me. But," and he shook 
his head, " I have seen uprisings of people be- 
fore. I have seen them suffer under burdens 
imposed upon them by their masters until 
they could bear it no more ; then they threw 
it off and struck out madly, blindly at their 
tormentors. But always they were beaten 
down. They were untaught in war ; they 
had no skilled leaders to show them the way 
to point out the foe's weaknesses, to direct 
their strength. If I expect to see this re- 
peated now it will not surprise you, surely." 

" When you come to know us," smiled Nat, 
" you'll know us better." 

As they entered Cambridge they encoun- 
tered Colonel Stark, with his powerful face and 


fearless bearing. Ezra saluted and stopped 
him, and as they conversed at some distance, 
Scarlett said : 

''Who is that?'^ 

'' It is Colonel Stark, of New Hampshire. 
He has fought the French and Indians all his 
life and is a sample of our leaders." 

'' He has the front of a man who'd face ter- 
rible odds and never flinch," commented the 
adventurer as he regarded Stark narrowly. 
*' Yes, I like your Colonel Stark ; but I will 
require to see the others before I change my 

Ezra saluted the New Hampshire warrior, 
who then rode on. The boy returned to his 

'* We are again fortunate," said he. " Colo- 
nel Stark has just left General Ward and tells 
me that Colonel Prescott and General Putnam 
were then with him. If we make haste we 
might find them there still." 

The hasty clatter of hoofs awoke no surprise 
in the town. Cambridge had grown accus- 
tomed to such long since. As they approached 
the house which the commander had made 
his headquarters, they saw a few sentries 


leaning upon their rifles, conversing care- 

A broad window, which faced an open sweep 
of green, stood open ; and within, three men 
in blue uniforms faced with white were gath- 
ered about a table in earnest discussion. 

The boys halted and dismounted ; after a 
moment's discussion it was decided that Ezra 
should seek admittance to the officers' pres- 
ence alone, as he could best tell of what had 
happened. So the others seated themselves 
upon the grass in full view of the window, 
while the young New Englander approached 
the sentries and announced himself. After 
some hesitation one of them went into the 
house as though to seek the commands of a 

Scarlett's searching eyes watched the three 
about the table ; every movement, every line- 
ament, so it seemed, came under his observa- 

" And so these are more of your leaders," 
said he to Nat. " Tell me now, which of them 
is General Ward ? " 

" The one directly facing us," replied Nat, 
pointing to the general in command. " He is 


a safe leader, and that's saying the least of 
him. The only fault that could be charged 
against him is that his health is bad, which 
might affect his enterprise. He was once a 
justice of the peace ; also he served with the 
British commander, Abercrombie, against the 
French and Indians. He was a lieutenant." 

Scarlett plainly had no exalted opinion of 
General Ward as an officer ; but he made no 

'* This other, now," he said, '' this thick-set 
man with the full red face and the whitening 
hair. Which is he?" 

'' That," said Nat, " is General Putnam. 
He is considered to be, and I think justly, 
one of the most remarkable military characters 
of this time. For years he led the quiet life 
of a country gentleman on a beautiful farm at 
Brooklyn in Connecticut. He was noted but 
for one exploit ; and that was the killing of a 
she-wolf which had become the terror of the 
countryside. As no one had been able to des- 
troy the beast, Putnam had himself lowered 
into its den, and shot it to death as it sprang 
at his throat. 

** When the French invaded northern New 


York, he took up arms and, with the provin- 
cial army, marched to repulse them. Ten 
years of his life were spent in that and Indian 
warfare. Once he was taken at Wood Creek 
by the Indians, who determined to burn him, 
and were about applying the torch at his feet 
when a French captain of the name of Molang 
arrived and saved his life. He won the rank 
of colonel in the provincial army and was 
with General Lyman in the West Indies, serv- 
ing at the fall of Havana. After that he went 
back to his estate, where he remained until the 
alarm went out to the Sons of Liberty some 
two months ago.'* 

" A right experienced officer,'' said Scarlett, 
** and like the man from New Hampshire, he 
has the look of one that would not be easily 

At this juncture they saw Ezra admitted to 
the house ; a moment later they saw him enter 
the room where the three officers sat. 

" Your Colonel Prescott is the other one, of 
course," said the adventurer, as he regarded 
the stalwart, soldier-like figure of that gallant 
gentleman. ** For what is he remarkable ? " 

" He, too, has seen honorable service in the 


provincial army. He was a captain under 
General Winslow. At the first call for de- 
fenders he left his estates at Pepperell and 
gave his service and influence to the general 
good. I have the opinion," continued Nat, 
** that this officer will conduct himself with 
distinction in whatever place his lot be cast.'* 

" If we are to go by appearances, yes. How- 
ever," and the soldier of fortune twirled his 
moustache points, " the future will raise up 
leaders for your country if the war continues.*' 

While they were speaking, they had been 
closely watching the scene within the head- 
quarters of the colonial commander. George, 
Ben and the Porcupine were also likewise en- 

They saw Ezra greeted with rather sur- 
prised reserve. This was to be expected, as 
the three officers were apparently deep in some 
problem that required their undivided atten- 
tion. Ezra saluted, and then the watchers saw 
Colonel Prescott speak to him. What he said 
must have been kindly and encouraging, for 
a look of gratitude came into the boy's face. 

He stood at the foot of the table. General 
Ward was at its head, while the other officers 



sat upon either side. Then the lad began to 
speak, and from the first sentence those out- 
side noted a look of anticipation settle upon 
the listeners' faces. 

This grew deeper and deeper ; now and 
then General Putnam struck the table a smart 
blow with his right hand, his red face grow- 
ing still redder. But toward the end of Ezra's 
story, he grew as grave as the others ; and 
when the finish came, all arose quickly. Gen- 
eral Ward was seen to speak, the others ges- 
tured their accord with him. Then all shook 
Ezra's hand warmly, after which Putnam and 
Prescott, followed by the lad, strode out of the 

The horses belonging to the general and 
colonel were at hand when they emerged. A 
sentry brought them forward, and as this was 
being done, Ezra beckoned Gilbert Scarlett to 
the door of headquarters. 

" This," said the boy, " is Mr. Scarlett, who 
was of such great assistance to me." 

Both soldiers greeted the adventurer warmly. 

" Sir," said General Putnam, in his bluff, 
honest way, *^ I am glad to see you in Cam- 
bridge at such a time. For a man so ready 


of hand and brain as you have proved your- 
self, there are deeds to be done." 

" If you will accept a commission with our 
forces," said Colonel Prescott, after examining 
the young man steadily, "I feel sure that 
Dr. Warren and his fellow committeemen will 
see to it with pleasure." 

"Gentlemen," responded Scarlett with a 
flourish, " you are kind. I will not forget 
you. And if it should come about that I 
should at last take a side in this bickering 
that is now begun, I will give what you say 
serious consideration." 

As Putnam and Prescott mounted, both 
Scarlett and Ezra stood at salute ; the officers 
replied to this and rode hastily off, after the 
manner of men who had urgent matters that 
required their attention. 

"Well?" inquired Nat Brewster, as Ezra 
and the adventurer approached once more. 

" As it happened," said Ezra, cheerily, 
" General Ward was just outlining a plan to 
fortify one of the hills above or below the city, 
when I arrived. The matter has been under 
consideration in the council for some days, but 
some of the commanders have felt doubtful." 


" And what will now be done ? ^^ asked 
George, anxiously. 

" A force will be sent to throw up works 
on Bunker Hill." 

" But/' protested Ben Cooper, '* how do they 
know that it is Bunker Hill that the British 
mean to attack ? " 

*' They don't. But General Putnam says 
that they will attack any commanding place 
that our force seizes." 

Scarlett slapped his thigh. 

" A sound military judgment," declared he. 
*' He is most undoubtedly right. If Bunker 
Hill is taken possession of, Bunker Hill will 
be the object of Gage's assault. Look here." 

Then in the shadow of General Ward's 
headquarters, the lads, together with the Por- 
cupine, held consultation over a rough map 
which the adventurer had drawn before enter- 
ing Boston. 

" There will be riding to-day," said Ezra, at 
length, " and the bearing of dispatches. It 
would be as well that we should report to Dr. 
Warren for any service that we can render." 

As Scarlett was not open to perform any 
such service until he had committed himself 


finally to the cause, the dwarf was sent with 
him to find a comfortable inn ; then the four 
comrades rode to Dr. Warren's house. 

The patriot doctor had just received a hasty 
line from Prescott, more than likely written 
in the saddle, and was delighted at the arrival 
of these four active, enterprising young spirits. 

" This," said he, as he sat down to plan the 
work which he desired them to do, ** will be a 
day of days. Let us hope that Providence 
will be kind to us and guide us to victory." 

All day the four rode up and down the 
countryside. And wherever they went all be- 
came activity. Arms were seen to, ammuni- 
tion was gotten ready, men were set to drill- 
ing outside their camps. Volunteers, at the 
prospect of immediate action, flocked into the 
towns ; mattocks, spades and other entrench- 
ing tools were sent forward in wagon-loads to 

Orders were issued in the evening for Pres- 
cott\s, Frye's and Bridge's regiments, also a 
party of two hundred Connecticut troops to 
parade in the Cambridge camp, furnished with 
packs and blankets and with provisions for 
twenty-four hours. Also Captain Gridley's 


company of artillery of forty-nine men and 
two field-pieces was commanded to parade. 

However, in all the dispatch-bearing and 
all the activity, not a word as to what was 
going forward had leaked out. Captains as- 
sembled their companies and saw them 
equipped as directed without the faintest 
notion as to what was about to be attempted. 

The brigade named was to make an im- 
mediate advance upon Bunker Hill under com- 
mand of Colonel Prescott. Colonel Richard 
Gridley, the American engineer, was to bear 
him company with the plans of the proposed 

Gilbert Scarlett sat his borrowed horse by 
the side of Ezra Prentiss and watched Pres- 
cott's brigade mass upon Cambridge common. 

'' It's true," said he, with a hitch at his sword 
belt and a flush upon his face, ** that I have 
taken no side yet in this quarrel. But I never 
could resist a good fight. So I'll strike a blow 
for the sheer pleasure of it, even if I have no 
feeling in the matter." 

" I expected that," laughed Ezra. " And 
when you have struck one I am sure that the 
second will follow." 


Dusk was beginning to settle upon that 
sixteenth day of June but there was light 
enough to play upon the rifle barrels and 
upon naked bayonets thrust into wide leather 
belts. The men were earnest-faced and deter- 
mined ; they bore themselves not after the 
style of regulated troops, but rather after that 
of men who were about to face the power of 
tyranny and attempt to break it once and for 
all. As he looked at them, admiration came 
into the face of the adventurer. 

** Here," said he to Ezra, *' we have fellows 
that have the power and the will to fight. The 
King^s troops will have no rabble to disperse, 
as I've more than once heard they've ex- 

With the oflScers at their heads, the brigade 
stood with heads bowed, resting upon their 
grounded rifles. A white-haired man, vener- 
able and dignified, advanced before them, his 
hand upraised. 

*' Who is that ? " whispered Ben Cooper, 
much impressed. 

" It is President Langdon of Harvard Col- 
lege," replied Ezra Prentiss. " Hush-h-h I " 
as Ben was about to speak once more. 


Amid dead silence the venerable scholar be- 
gan a fervent and impressive prayer. He 
prayed that heaven would watch over the lit- 
tle army and bring it to victory over the forces 
of evil, that morning should dawn upon it, 
strong for the fight and that it would hold out 
in the face of discouragements and dangers. 

When everything was ready it was about 
nine o'clock ; the command was formed into 
column and the advance began. Masked 
lights were borne in front by Ezra Prentiss 
and his friends ; the carts containing the en- 
trenching tools rumbled along in the rear. 

At Charlestown Neck the detachment was 
halted, and the officers and men were informed 
as to the nature of the venture. Captain Nut- 
ting and his company, together with a party 
of Connecticut troops, were here ordered by 
Prescott to proceed to the lower end of the 
town as a guard. Here, also, General Putnam 
dashed up, accompanied by Major Brooks, 
and joined the main body. 

Once more the party was put into motion ; 
but at the foot of Bunker Hill it again came 
to a halt. Colonel Prescott called his officers 
about him and they plunged into an earnest 


debate. The dim light of the lanterns held by 
the boys lit up the earnest faces of the officers 
as they talked. 

** The orders for us to occupy Bunker Hill 
are most explicit," said Prescott after a time. 
^' And yet it would seem to me " 

He paused and his bold gaze went toward 
the hill nearest Boston, which bulked upward 
in a dense swell through the night. 

" The nearer the enemy, the quicker we 
come to hard gripes with him," declared the 
rough and ready Putnam. 

The other officers were for the most part 
silent ; those who did speak were non-com- 
mittal. It was plain to be seen that they had 
no desire to go contrary to General Ward's 
orders unless some one else assumed the re- 

" If we had a map of the section," spoke 
Prescott, " I think I could show you all the 
weak points in our orders." 

In a moment Ezra Prentiss stood forward 
and saluted. Prescott signed to him to speak. 

** Mr. Scarlett has such a map," he said. 
" I saw it only to-day." 

Instantly the drawing was demanded. 




Scarlett stepped within the circle, coolly took 
it from his pocket, and proceeded to explain 
its design. The officers listened with great at- 
tention and examined the map closely. 

" Orders to a soldier," stated Scarlett wisely, 
*' should be as the breath to his nostrils. But," 
and he elevated his brows, '* plans made in the 
camp are sometimes necessarily modified in 
the field." 

Putnam looked at Prescott and that gentle- 
man smiled. 

^^That Breed's Hill," continued Scarlett 
pointing to his map, '' is nearest the enemy is 
the point of view of a fighting commander. 
Two more things are to be considered in its 
favor. Occupy it and you face your foe as he 
comes up the slope from the water ; also by so 
doing you deprive him of a point where he 
can plant his batteries." 

Putnam threw back his head and laughed. 

** Could anything be better said?" de- 
manded he. '' The gentleman makes it all 
point. There is nothing else to do that I can 
see," with an inquiring look at his fellows, 
'^ but to shift from Bunker to Breed's and 
make our fight there." 


Colonel Prescott and Colonel Gridley at 
once gave the same as their opinions ; and 
after a few minor objections, the remainder 
also gave their consent. 

Again the troops were put in motion ; and 
this time they were not to halt until they had 
reached a spot for the possession of which they 
were to fight a battle, the story of which will 
live while the nation holds her place among 
her sisters of the earth. 




Bunker Hill, at the time of the siege of 
Boston, was a familiar place, but Breed's 
Hill was not so well known. 

The surface of the latter was divided into 
tracts used as pastures ; and these were called 
after their separate owners. There was Rus- 
selFs pasture, and Breed's pasture, further 
south, while Green's was at the head of what 
is now Green Street. 

The east and west sides of the hill were very 
steep. At the east base were brick kilns, clay 
pits and much marshland. 

At the top of Breed's Hill the men, at the 
command of their officers, threw down their 
packs, stacked arms and stood ready. In the 
dim light of the masked lanterns held by Ezra 
and his comrades, Colonel Gridley marked 
out the lines of the works ; the tool carts 



came up, the tools were distributed and the 
men set to work. And as this began, Colonel 
Prescott ordered a guard, under Captain Max- 
well of his own regiment, to patrol the shore 
of the lower part of the town near the old 

" We must know what the enemy is about," 
Ezra heard the colonel say to Colonel Gridley. 
" His movements are most interesting to us 

So near were they to the sentry-belted town 
of Boston that they could hear, now and then, 
the cry of the guard at Copp's Hill battery. 
Also the sounds from the war-ships were car- 
ried to them on the quiet wind. 

" Their vessels command our position very 
well," said Colonel Gridley, as they stood 
looking out across the starlit waters. " That 
is the ' Falcon,' there off Moulton's Point. The 
* Somerset ' is at the ferry, and that ship near 
to Craigie's Bridge is the ' Glasgow.' The 
^ Cerberus ' and some floating batteries are 
yonder where you see that tangle of lights." 

'' It will be a surprise to me if our work is 
not suspected before daylight," said Prescott. 
" However, the men are accustomed to han- 


dling their tools, and may carry it through un- 

And that is what happened. Diligently the 
thousand patriots cut into the earth. Perfect 
silence was maintained ; and every little while 
the assuring cry that ** All's well " came from 
Maxwell's patrol down along the water's edge. 

When dawn finally broke on that seven- 
teenth of June, the works were about six feet 
in height, and the men were still laboring 
away on them with a will. The entrench- 
ments were first discovered by the watch upon 
the twenty-gun vessel ** Lively." Captain 
Bishop, her commander, did not wait for 
orders, but put a spring in her cable and at 
once opened fire. 

The roar of the " Lively's " guns awoke the 
British camp, and soon all Boston was assem- 
bled, staring in wonderment at the fortifica- 
tions which a night had caused to arise upon 
Breed's Hill. 

A little later a battery of six guns at Copp's 
Hill took up the firing, and soon the heavier 
vessels joined in. 

A cannon-shot finally killed a man laboring 
on the platforms behind the breastworks. At 


once the faces of his comrades went pale at the 
sight ; but Colonel Prescott, who happened to 
be close at hand, stepped upon the parapet 
and leisurely paced around, examining it and 
speaking to the officers. Noticing his inten- 
tions, Ezra Prentiss and Nat Brewster, who 
were with him, awaiting his commands, did 
likewise. And seeing these three calmly ig- 
noring the British fire, the raw soldiers took 
heart ; indeed a little later they took to greet- 
ing each shot with shouts of derision. 

The sun came well up and the heat became 
oppressive. Some of the men, unaccustomed 
to warfare, had neglected to bring provisions, 
as ordered. Suffering for want of food and 
drink, they began to murmur. 

Some of the officers became alarmed. 

" We had better send word to General Ward 
at once, to relieve them with other troops," 
said he. " In a little while they will be be- 
yond control." 

*' I will never consent to these men being 
relieved," said Prescott, promptly. " They 
have raised the works and are the best able to 
defend them. They have suffered the labor, 
so let them have the honor of the fight." 


Ezra stood with Ben and George a little 
later upon the slope of the hill nearest the 
water ; he had been gazing across toward the 
city, and finally said : 

*' There seems to be some sort of a movement 
in Boston. Governor Gage has probably 
thought it high time to act." 

In this he was correct. Gage, after a council 
of war, in which his plans had been objected 
to by General Clinton, had finally issued the 
orders that brought the climax of the day. 
Artillery was wheeled into array, foot-soldiers 
and dragoons paraded in all the bravery of their 
uniforms and colors. 

Ten companies of British grenadiers and light 
infantry and the Fifth and Thirty-eighth regi- 
ments, with ammunition and supplies, were 
ordered to the Long Wharf. The Fifty-second 
and Forty-third regiments, together with the 
remaining companies of grenadiers and light 
infantry, were ordered to the North Battery. 
Other troops were held in readiness to march 
at a moment^s notice. 

At the earnest request of his officers. Colo- 
nel Prescott dispatched Major Brooks to Cam- 
bridge to General Ward for reinforcements. 


This officer reached headquarters about ten 
o'clock, and after much discussion, the regi- 
ments of Colonel Stark and Colonel Reed, both 
of New Hampshire, were sent to the aid of 
those upon the hill. 

When, at last, the men at work upon the 
fortifications were exhausted by the toil and 
the heat, General Putnam had a large force 
of men gather up the tools, fall back with 
them to Bunker Hill and there begin a second 
line of works. 

" We don't expect to be beaten," said that 
seasoned officer, *' but in a battle no one knows 
just what will happen; so it's best to have 
something to fall back on." 

It was about twelve o'clock noon, when Ezra 
Prentiss' keen eyes detected the first of the 
British march to the boats. 

**Here they come," he shouted to Ben 
Cooper, who was some little distance away. 
*' We'll need the rifles now." 

All of them, the Porcupine included, carried 
rifles strapped upon their backs ; and their 
pouches were stuffed with ammunition. So 
now they proceeded to get them ready. Locks 
were examined ; old charges were withdrawn 


and fresh ones rammed down. With Prescott's 
permission they selected stations at the end 
of a line of riflemen whose position promised 
at least a fair share of action. 

The Porcupine, as he stood leaning upon 
his rifle, the barrel of which towered above 
his head, excited much laughter among the 
men. But he grinned good-naturedly and 
smoothed down his stiff* crest of hair. 

*' Laugh away,*' said he, " if it'll do you any 
good. I don't mind it. But remember, it 
won't take inches to shoot straight. You'll 
find the British dodging the bullets I send 
them, as nimbly as they do those of the tallest 
of you." 

A laugh and the clapping of hands down 
the line greeted this. 

*' Truly spoken," said a huge farmer-like 
fellow who had performed prodigies in the en- 
trenching, '*and aptly said, too. Pointed prop- 
erly, his bullet will lift a lieutenant-general 
out of his saddle, and more than that you can't 
say for any of us." 

As the British began preparing to embark, 
two more ships of war moved up the Charles 
River to join the others in firing upon the 


American works. The roar of the cannonade 
was tremendous ; the yellow smoke at times 
almost obscured the sun. The '' Falcon " and 
^^ Lively " were sweeping the low ground at 
the foot of Breed's Hill to dislodge parties 
that might have been sent by Prescott to pre- 
vent a landing. And as General Howe, who 
was in command of the attack, with Brigadier- 
General Pigot under him, embarked, the ** Glas- 
gow " frigate and *' Symmetry " transport began 
raking Charlestown Neck to prevent the cross- 
ing of any further American reinforcements. 

As the signal, the hoisting of a blue flag, 
was given, the British host began to advance 
across the river, their artillery in the leading 
barges. A breeze drove the smoke to the 
northward, and the lads, as they stood in the 
redoubt, had a clear view of the crossing. 
And Ezra, as he looked, drew in a deep 

** If splendor of appearance ever wins battles, 
surely this detachment will be the winner to- 
day,'' he said. 

*' But it never does," said Gilbert Scarlett, 
a rifle in the hollow of his arm. *' Accurate 
firing, steadiness and the resolve to stick to it 


until the very last shot, is what brings vic- 

The brilliant scarlet coats, the white cross 
belts, the gleam of the rifle barrels and brass 
guns formed a most dazzling and impressive 
sight. And the boats came with the regular- 
ity of machinery ; the heavy frigates and 
brisker gunboats covered their advance with 
a continuous thunder of guns. 

The Americans did little to halt the British 
progress. The time for action, as their wise 
commanders had decided, had not yet arrived. 

" And they are right," commented Gilbert 
Scarlett. " Our cannon are few and of light 
weight, and to fire on the shipping would be 
waste of powder." Even the troop-barges, 
he pointed out, were difficult to hit, up to the 
moment of their landing. 

This latter occurred just one hour after the 
start, and Moulton^s Point was the place 
selected. Not a shot was fired at the British 
force as they left their boats, and they im- 
mediately formed in orderly array. There 
was a long halt. General Howe, after exam- 
ining the American works, seemed to think 
very well of them, for he at once sent back 


across the river a demand for reinforcements. 
And while these were being sent the British 
officers, with the nonchalance that experience 
brings, very quietly dined. 

Prescott and Putnam and their force lay 
stubbornly behind the earthworks waiting 
for the foe to make the first move. But be- 
yond, at Cambridge, all was excitement and 
uproar. Bells clashed and swung in the 
church towers, drums beat to arms, and guns 
roared their warning that the British had 
crossed in force. 

There was no need now for General Ward 
to withhold the regiments still under his 
command ; all along he had been afraid to 
send too many men to Breed's Hill, thinking 
that the attack might be leveled at Cam- 
bridge. Now he reserved but Patterson's, 
Gardener's and part of Bridge's regiments 
to protect the town ; the remainder of the 
Massachusetts force and what was left of 
Putnam's Connecticut men were hurried for- 
ward to the point of attack. 

Dr. Warren appeared at the earthworks at 
this time and was greeted with cheers. The 
men were exhausted and hungry, and for a 


time had been inclined to suspect the good 
faith of their officers. But now with such 
men as Warren, Putnam, Prescott and, later, 
General Pomeroy, plain in their sight, they 
were quiet and patient enough. 

At about two o'clock the British began a 
movement along the Mystic River with the 
intention of flanking the Americans and sur- 
rounding the redoubt. Putnam at once 
ordered two pieces of artillery, and Captain 
Knowlton with the Connecticut troops, to 
leave the entrenchments, descend the hill 
and oppose the enemy's right wing. 

While Knowlton was carrying out this com- 
mand, Colonel Stark with his New Hampshire 
men began the crossing of Charlestown Neck. 
The guns of the *' Glasgow" were trained 
upon them ; shells screamed through the air ; 
solid shot ripped great seams in the earth. 

In the heart of the regiment a single drum 
tapped with regular beat ; the men marched 
to this calmly, their long rifles over their 
shoulders. Now and then a shot tore 
through them, but they never hurried their 

Stark's grim face was set like stone; it 


seemed as though he scarcely cast a look at 
the thundering ship of war. The command 
continued to swing slowly along to the tap of 
the drum. When part way over Captain 
Dearborn spoke to the colonel apprehen- 
sively : 

" We are moving very slowly. Wouldn't 
it be well to sound the double quick ? " 

But the heroic Stark replied, quietly : 

*' They are moving fast enough for men go- 
ing into action. In a fight, one fresh man is 
as good as a dozen tired ones." 

These troops, with Captain Knowlton's, 
took possession of a rail fence at the foot of 
Bunker Hill ; and they set about extending it 
by throwing up a stone wall on the beach. 
Later Colonel Reed's force joined those of 
Connecticut and New Hampshire. 

When Howe's reinforcements arrived, the 
British commander addressed his army, now 
of about three thousand men ; then he gave 
the order to advance against the colonial 
force. At the same time a signal was given 
and the frigates, the floating batteries and 
that upon Copp's Hill, all centred their fire 
upon the fortifications. At the same time 


other British batteries in Boston began to 
throw shells into Roxbury in an effort to 
burn that town. 

The British advanced under cover of this 
terrific fire. The American artillery was but 
feeble and soon silenced. General Howe 
moved with his right wing, with which he 
hoped to burst through the Connecticut and 
New Hampshire men at the rail fence : Gen- 
eral Pigot came on with the left, which aimed 
to storm the redoubt. At this point the at- 
tacking force found that twelve-pound shot had 
been sent to load six-pounder guns. Howe 
was all but frantic with rage ; but he ordered 
that the pieces be charged with grape and that 
the force continue to push on. 

The miry ground, the tall grass, the heat 
and their heavy equipment burdened the 
British rank and file ; but they regarded vic- 
tory as assured ; they felt nothing but con- 
tempt, in spite of Concord Bridge, for the 
" peasants " who so stubbornly faced them. 

Coolly the Americans awaited. 

*^ Hold your fire,'^ commanded Prescott, 
" until they are within ten rods — and then 
wait for the word." 


" Powder is scarce/' cried General Putnam, 
** Don't waste a charge." 

" Aim low," directed Dr. Warren. " Then 
you can't miss them." 

" Wait till you see the whites of their eyes I " 

" Through the middle of their red coats I " 
advised a rifleman, to whom, so it seemed, the 
white cross belts upon the scarlet coats offered 
a splendid target. 

Pigot's command advanced nearer and 
nearer ; the fire of the shipping ceased alto- 
gether, for the British were so close that sharp 
eyes in the American lines could pick out in- 
dividuals. Nat Brewster pointed out a body 
of marines. 

" There is our old friend, Major Pitcairn," 
said he to George Prentiss. 

Both Nat and George had had rather an in- 
timate acquaintance with that gallant and 
humane British ofiicer, just previous to the 
Lexington fight. 

** He is as smooth and unrufiled as ever," 
laughed George, "and his men move like 

As the redcoats came on, a scattering fire 
began at some points. 


" Wait for the word/' shouted Prescott. 
And Ezra, Scarlett and Nat Brewster leaped 
upon the parapet and ran along, kicking up 
the leveled pieces. " Hold your fire, men." 

The British, as they advanced, had kept up 
a continuous fire ; and this made it all the 
more difficult for the Americans to restrain 
themselves. However, they had not long to 

Step by step the brilliant array of British 
swung nearer. The sun sparkled upon their 
lines of rifle barrels ; their faces were hard and 
scornful ; the metal upon their harness shone 
like gold. 

With an almost mystic sense of time Pres- 
cott caught the right moment. Sharp, clear, 
ringing, his voice went up : 

'' Fire I '' 

Along the redoubt, and the full length of 
the breastwork, there was a level line of dart- 
ing flame : like a shock of thunder the crash 

** Again ! " rang the voice of Prescott as one 
line of his riflemen gave place to another. 
" Fire ! " 

Once more the flame points sprang outward ; 


once more the crash followed ; once more the 
bullets poured into the British. 

The latter received the leaden hail with all 
the stoicism of the veterans that they were. 
Briskly they came on, sharply they answered, 
their ranks melting like wax all the time. 
But even they could not long face that awful 
rain ; suddenly they wavered, furiously Gen- 
eral Pigot sounded a retreat, and as the foe 
fell back a thunderous cheer went up from 
the colonials, behind the works. 

" Good firing," commented Gilbert Scarlett, 
as he looked to his smoking rifle. " These 
countrymen of yours," he continued to Ezra, 
" need disciplining — yes ; but no one need 
teach them how to shoot." 

While this was happening, the line of 
Stark and Knowlton at the rail fence was 
grimly facing Howe and his oncoming force. 
The frightful rifle fire littered the ground with 
the British veterans ; they broke and fled in 

When this was seen from the redoubt, a 
tempest of cheers went up. Ezra made out in 
the thick of the retreat the fine figure of Gen- 
eral Howe, as that gallant officer strove with 


his men, trying to get them into some sem- 
blance of order. 

** See," said the boy, pointing, " he's bring- 
ing them into shape. I have heard that this 
General Howe is a very able officer ; and his 
men seem to believe in him." 

'* His second attack will be warmer, I 
think," said Nat Brewster. " He'll know 
what to expect, and will no doubt make his 
plans accordingly." 

They watched, as did the entire American 
force, the reassembling of the British. And 
while this was going on the battery at Copp's 
Hill began to throw shells into Charlestown ; 
also a party of marines landed upon its east- 
erly side from the " Somerset " to fire the town. 

Suddenly Ben Cooper cried out : 

'' Look there ! " 

A pall of smoke was rising above the town ; 
then a fierce burst of flame ascended. 

'* They have fired Charlestown," said George 
Prentiss, his face paling. "They think to 
frighten us. But it will take more than that." 

The buildings were mainly of wood and the 
fire swept among them, swirling and devour- 
ing ; huge, far-reaching tongues of red flame 


curled outward across the streets, from struc- 
ture to structure, licking them up and leav- 
ing nothing but ashes behind. 

In the midst of this terrifying disaster, 
General Howe ordered his second attack on 
the rail fence. This time his artillery got 
fairly into service ; his men, as before, fired 
as they advanced. 

The American officers, grown confident, 
cried out : 

" Reserve your fire. Let them come within 
three rods 1 " 

This command was followed. When the 
time once more arrived the American rifles 
spat their messengers of death at the enemy. 
Whole ranks of the British seemed to fall. 
In the midst of death General Howe cheered 
on his soldiers. Two of his aides were shot 
down while receiving his orders. 

In the face of swift-coming death the sol- 
diery faltered. The British officers were seen 
to strike some of them with their swords, 
urging them on. But it was no use. Again 
they gave way, this time rushing to their 
boats and leaping in as though frantic with 
the fear of it all. 


The flames roared and the smoke billowed 
over Charlestowu. At the foot of Breed's 
Hill, the brilliant red-coated and white cross 
belted men huddled and massed in seemingly 
hopeless confusion. The sun glinted upon 
their tall brass-fronted hats, their musket bar- 
rels threw off countless dancing reflections. 
Their officers raved among them in efforts to 
reform them ; swords were drawn, and pistols 
were presented at the heads of the more stub- 

Because of this panic among the British 
and because Howe was communicating with 
the Boston shore, the third attack was de- 
layed. The Americans were thankful for this, 
and spent the time trying to bring up the 
further reinforcements sent to them. It was 
also discovered about this time that the am- 
munition was all but exhausted. 

George Prentiss and Ben Cooper, mounted 
upon swift horses, were sent to bear this news 
to General Putnam, who had gone back to 
bring up the new men. 

** Tell him to send us some powder, or we 
are lost," was Prescqtt's last and secret word 
with them. 


When the two had raced furiously away, 
some artillery cartridges were pointed out by 
Gilbert Scarlett. 

" Broken open, they would supply quite a 
few charges for the small arms," he suggested. 
" I saw the liiie done at a small engagement 
in which I took part in Egypt." 

This was eagerly seized upon ; but the 
quantity secured was pitifully small. 

" Don't waste a grain of it," cautioned 
Colonel Prescott. *' Send every bullet to its 

But that their officers feared for the result 
of the day was hidden from the men. Both 
Prescott and Dr. Warren walked constantly 
up and down the parapet, talking cheerily 
with the defenders, and advising them how to 
meet any fresh onset. 

** You have beaten them twice," cried Gen- 
eral Warren, for that was the rank he now 
held. ** Do it once more ; and it will be the 

While this was going on at the top of the 
hill, Howe was still raging at its foot. 

" I'll conquer the rascals, or die trying," he 
declared repeatedly. 


A reinforcement of four hundred marines 
had reached him from the fleet. Also he had 
a distinguished volunteer in the person of his 
close friend, the very able General Clinton. 
The latter had twice seen Howe discomfited ; 
so he threw himself into a boat at Copp's Hill 
and crossed to ofiFer his services. 

But some of the British officers strongly 
advised against another attack. 

'* It will be little less than butchery to lead 
the men upon that position again/' they 

But Howe thought otherwise. He sternly 
commanded that the men be put into a sol- 
dier-like formation ; then with the crafty help 
of Clinton, he began to plan the third attack. 

The British commander had, by this time, 
learned to respect the colonials. 

** They told me that I had a rabble of peas- 
ants to fight," said he to Clinton. '* If it's so, 
then there are the makings of fine troops 
among those villains on the hill." 

In the forming of his last attack Howe had 
no doubt the sound advice of General Clin- 
ton ; for it was better thought out and de- 
livered with more wisdom than the others. 


The rank and file were now commanded to 
lay aside their heavy knapsacks. They had 
been burdened with these and other useless 
pieces of equipment during the entire after- 
noon, and this, perhaps, had had its effect in 
breaking their courage. Then they were 
formed into columns. 

" Rely upon the steel," Howe commanded 
them. " Reserve your fire until you get 
within a dozen paces of them. They shall see 
that we, too, can fight after that fashion." 

This attack was directed upon the redoubt 
above ; only a sham advance was made 
against the rail fence, in order that Stark and 
Knowlton's men be forced to hold their posi- 
tion, and so not be able to come to the aid of 
Prescott's. Also the British artillery was now 
supplied with proper shot, and was wheeled 
forward to rake the breastworks. 

As the British came on, Ezra Prentiss re- 
garded their compact columns with an anx- 
ious eye. He had had but little experience 
in warfare ; but something told him that 
there was a task coming much more formi- 
dable than what had gone before. 

" It looks," said he to Nat and Scarlett, '* as 


though this would be the test, somehow. 
This attack seems more deftly directed." 

Gilbert Scarlett's black eyes were sparkling 
with anticipation. 

" Our friend, my Lord Howe, is increasing 
in wisdom as the day advances," he said. 
" As you say, it will be a test. If we can 
hold the breastworks against that," and he 
pointed to the King's artillery being pushed 
into its last murderous position, " we will beat 
them again. If not, we are at the end of 
the fight, and can only hope for a safe re- 

On came the steady, sullen, silent columns. 
Some of the American riflemen had but one 
charge of powder ; and this was poured in 
with deadly effect as the word was given. 
The grenadiers and light infantry shook un- 
der the shock, but came on at the urging of 
their ofiBcers. In a little while the left col- 
umns under Clinton and Pigot reached a po- 
sition under the walls of the redoubt where 
they were sheltered from the scattering and 
feeble fire of the defenders. Then they de- 
ployed and with a rush the first flank had 
gained the parapet. A leaden hail ; the last 


concentrated volley of the colonists swept 
this into eternity. 

But on came the second rank of redcoats 
over the works with leveled bayonets ; the 
Americans met them with clubbed rifles and 
the few bayonets that they possessed. Stones 
flew through the air, hurled by desperate 
hands ; rifle barrel rang against sword and 
bayonet. Desperately the colonists strove ; 
but at this style of fighting they could not 
hope to hold their ground against the trained 
troops of Lord Howe. Step by step, Prescott 
saw them beaten back ; their ranks were thin- 
ning fast, and hope was past ; so with mercy in 
his heart, the gallant leader sounded a retreat. 

So great was the dust thrown up by the 
rushing feet of the contending forces that the 
retreating Americans had difficulty in locat- 
ing the outlets in the redoubt. Some leaped 
over its top ; the majority fought their way 
grimly through the British, leaving a track 
of killed and desperately hurt behind them. 
Colonel Prescott was among the last to leave. 
He parried countless bayonet thrusts with his 
heavy sword and his waistcoat was pierced 
more than once. 


As the Americans fled from the works, 
General Warren threw himself desperately 
among them. He knew that unless the rifle- 
men were stayed the retreat would become a 
rout. And it was here that this gallant 
gentleman met his heroic death. The British 
took possession of the redoubt with shouts of 
victory ; with the instinct of trained troops 
they formed and poured a murderous volley 
into the Americans. Warren was seen to 
stagger and fall before this ; and the rushing 
mass of his countrymen passed by and left 
him upon the field. 

" I guess it's all over, boys," panted Nat 
Brewster. '* We'd best make our way back 
with the others.'' 

But at this point, when destruction seemed 
hovering over the flying Americans, Putnam 
succeeded in at last bringing up the reinforce- 
ments. Between Bunker and Breed's Hills 
parts of the regiments of Ward, Gardener and 
Gerrish poured a continuous fire upon the en- 
emy as they rushed forward in pursuit, and 
so checked them. Then the New Hampshire 
and Connecticut men at the rail fence, who 
had defended their position like heroes, saw 


that Prescott's men were in retreat. So with 
that they gave back like veteran troops, com- 
pelling their foes to keep their distance, and 
soon the entire American force, with their 
foemen held well in hand, were bearing back 
over Bunker Hill. 

It was at the brow of this eminence that 
Putnam rode up upon a foaming horse, his 
face shining like that of a son of battle. He 
had labored with the strength of a score of 
leaders upon the works here, but they were 
still unfinished. However, that never once 
caused his bold heart to falter. 

** Make a stand here ! " he shouted. " We 
can stop them yet ! One shot more, men I 
One shot more ! " 

But the retreat was not to be stopped ; the 
Americans had not yet been hardened to the 
desperate fighting in the face of defeat that 
comes to seasoned soldiery. And many of 
them had no more powder. And so they 
passed over the hill and across Charlestown 
Neck amid the fire of the British shipping 
and batteries. 

Then, with great parade, the British crossed 
the Neck and took possession of the hill that 


they had, only a few months before, staggered 
down in the retreat from Concord. But they 
dared go no further ; upon Winter and Pros- 
pect Hills, and from Cambridge a desperate, 
smoke-blackened army of patriots faced them, 
once more supplied with ammunition and 
with the resolution to stand and fight until 
the sun set and rose again. 

Ezra Prentiss, weary and covered with dust, 
cleaned his befouled rifle and sighed. 

"And, after all, it was a victory for the 
British,'* he said. 

But Scarlett, who sat at his side, likewise 
occupied, laughed grimly, and cast a look at 
the orderly but depleted array of the enemy. 

" It was a victory for them — yes," said he, 
with the wisdom of experience. " But an- 
other such victory would be fatal to General 
Gage. You have been beaten, but you have 
struck him a vital blow." 



After the desperate struggle upon Breed^s 
Hill the two armies lay upon their different 
eminences, breathlessly regarding each other ; 
they still held their arms ready, for they each 
dreaded what the other might do ; but there 
was no movement to continue the battle upon 
either side ; and so the last hours of daylight 
wore on. 

Ezra Prentiss and Nat Brewster were with 
Colonel Prescott almost all the time since the 
retreat had ceased. Their hearts were heavy 
when they learned of Dr. Warren^s death ; for 
where would such another be found as he? 
That there were other great men in the colo- 
nies, they knew well ; but none were quite so 
human, so entirely unselfish, so absolutely 
devoted to the public good as this patriot who 
still lay upon the hillside, his face turned to 

the sky. 



They sat upon a settle in the wide hall of 
the house in which Prescott made his head- 
quarters, and talked the sad news over in 
mournful undertones. Through an open 
doorway they could see the colonel pacing up 
and down, his face darkened with anger, his 
lips pressed tightly together. 

" The result seems to set heavily upon him," 
said Nat, at length. *' See how his hands are 
clenched ; and he has not even brushed the 
dust of the fight from his clothes." 

Ezra looked at the colonel's lowered head 
and burning eyes. 

" I have no doubt," said the young New 
Englander, " that there is nothing in the 
world that he would welcome so much as a 
renewal of the engagement. He had the bat- 
tle won, but for the lack of powder and the 
reinforcements that were so delayed and con- 

They continued to talk in low tones for a 
time ; then suddenly Colonel Prescott's tramp- 
ing ceased. He had paused in the centre of 
the room, and as the boys' eyes went to him 
once more, they found that he was looking to- 
ward them. 


" Prentiss," said the colonel, with the man- 
ner of one who had finally made up his mind 
to something, *' ask them to bring me my horse." 

Ezra saluted, and went quickly out. A few 
moments later the clatter of hoofs sounded 
upon the pavement, and Prescott, as he 
snatched up his hat, gestured Nat to follow. 

Not only was Colonel Prescott's mount 
awaiting him, but a little behind it stood the 
raw-boned black which Nat Brewster had rid- 
den ever since leaving Philadelphia the fall 
before. Beside this again was a hardy look- 
ing, flea-bitten gray of visible quality which 
Ezra had bought of a horse dealer in the camp 
to replace the tall bay which, for all he knew, 
still stood in the barn at the '' Indian's Head." 

All three mounted, and Prescott headed at 
once for General Ward's headquarters. The 
sun had but a short time to keep its rim above 
the west; indeed, in sheltered places, the 
shadows had grown long and were thickening 
into dusk. 

The colonel was admitted at once to the 
general's presence ; and the boys remained in 
an anteroom, which was crowded with officers 
and persons of consequence, all eager to hear 


the news of what was to be done on the mor* 

General Ward's room was also thronged, and 
business was being dispatched hurriedly. The 
hangings of the doorway were drawn because 
of the heat of the evening, and all that was 
said and done was plain to those in the ante- 
room. A light breeze was blowing through 
the house ; and some lights, already burning 
in tall silver candlesticks, leaped agitatedly, 
throwing quavering shadows upon the stern 
faces of the fighting-men gathered about. 

With one accord, all fell back from the table 
at which General Ward sat, upon the appear- 
ance of Colonel Prescott. As the commander 
of the force at the summit of the hill, they at 
once gave him place. 

** General,^' and Colonel Prescott saluted 
grimly, ** I have come to make my report upon 
the engagement fought to-day in the neigh- 
borhood of Charlestown." 

He placed a closely written paper upon the 
table as he spoke, and then stood back a pace. 

General Ward took up the paper and sat 
running his thumb and forefinger along its 
folds ; but he did not open it. 


" What has happened," said he, " is of course 
already known to me. All who witnessed 
your work to-day join in praising it ; it seems 
the universal opinion that no man could have 
done more. If you were driven from your 
position '* 

Colonel Prescott's hand went up and his 
flashing eyes swept the room. 

" If I lost my position," said he, ** it was not 
because my men and I were not willing to hold 
it to the last. It was because of the neglect of 
some whose duty it was to lend me help. 
Another thing," and he advanced to the table, 
his hand falling upon it with force, " give me 
fifteen hundred men to-night, with powder 
and ball and bayonets, and I will have re- 
covered Breed ^s Hill for you by sunrise to- 

A thrill ran through Ezra at these words. 
There was no doubting but that the aroused 
man meant them and stood ready to carry 
them out. But General Ward was too con- 
servative a soldier to harken to any such dar- 
ing plan. 

" The risk would be too great," said he. 
*' We must not waste our strength. To-day 


we have lost above four hundred men. If 
Howe were to order an advance we could 
scarcely hope to hold him in check/' 

" He has lost three times as many as we," 
returned Prescott ; ** and we need have no fear 
of his attacking us again, just yet." 

Then some one else broke in, and the con- 
versation in a moment became almost general. 
Plans were suggested and debated ; the raising 
of men, money and ammunition engrossed 
every one. 

When Colonel Prescott was leaving, Gen- 
eral Ward arose, shook his hand warmly and 
thanked him for his services in the name of 
the colonies. Coming with him to the door 
of the anteroom his eyes fell upon Ezra and 
Nat, and his face lighted up. 

" Here are the very lads," said he. *' I had 
all but forgotten that I required the service 
of some ready riders, and at once." 

The two boys stood forward and saluted. 

" There is a dispatch, all ready," said Gen- 
eral Ward to Prescott, " for the Congress at 
Philadelphia, giving a brief account of to- 
day's engagement. If you can spare these 
lads, and if they are not too weary with their 


work of to-day," with a smile at the two, 
*' there are none that I would rather send 
upon the mission." 

Prescott turned and looked at Ezra and 
Nat ; their eager looks caused a smile to ap- 
pear upon his stern face. 

" They will carry the dispatch," he said, 

" I shall require it to go to-night," said the 
general to the lads. 

He was a thoughtful man ; knowing that 
they had been in the thick of the fight, he 
hesitated about burdening them with this 
long journey without their having had a 
chance to rest. 

" Our horses are at the door," said Ezra, 
promptly. *' We are ready to go at once." 

So they remained after Colonel Prescott 
had departed. Soon the dispatch of the colo- 
nial commander was placed in Ezra's hands ; 
their instructions were brief; then they 
mounted and rode swiftly away upon their 
journey through the deepening dusk. 

" We should sleep at Framingham to- 
night," said Ezra. 

** We made the complete journey once in 


seven days," answered Nat. " And this time 
we should not be behind that." 

A farmhouse was their first halt ; and the 
good people were eager to do all they could 
for them when they heard who they were. 
It was the same through all of Massachusetts 
and Connecticut. Innkeepers gave them 
their best attention ; hostlers looked to their 
horses with unexampled solicitude ; the 
townspeople gathered about them burning to 
hear the news from the lips of the lads who 
had been in the battle. 

They reached New York, where they at- 
tracted great attention, crowds thronging the 
streets to watch their progress ; then they 
crossed the Hudson and began pushing their 
way across the level Jerseys. They had gone- 
a half day's ride over the sandy roads ; it was 
a little past noon when they came to a fine, 
old, tree-shaded house, with broad fields, green 
with the spring's planting, beautiful orchards 
and a generally prosperous look. 

'' Now this," spoke Nat, good-humoredly, 
*' is a likely sort of place for two wayfarers to 
alight and beseech entertainment. The peo- 
ple who live here could provide good food 


and in plenty, if appearances go for any- 

They dismounted at the open gate and tied 
their horses to the fence. A small dog, hear- 
ing their footsteps upon the path, ran toward 
them with a great ado of barking ; this brought 
forward a very small boy, who stood before 
them, his freckled face turned up inquiringly. 

" Do you want my father? " asked he. 

Ezra smiled down at the child. 

" Perhaps so,'' said he. " Is this your 
father's place?" 

The boy swept a small hand to all four 
points of the compass. 

"All of it," answered he. Then confiden- 
tially, " And he's going to get more." 

'* Good for him," laughed Nat, " and so 
now run off and ask him if he can see two 
riders who are on their way to Philadelphia." 

The child pursed up his mouth. 

" He is engaged," spoke he, wisely. ** Some 
gentlemen stopped a while ago. They are 
having dinner, and one of them is a general." 

The young continentals looked at one an- 

" What's his name ? " inquired Ezra. 


** General Wash'ton/' answered the child 

Again the lads' eyes sought each other in 
mute question ; and a thrill ran through 
them both. They recalled the tall, athletic 
Virginian who had sat his horse so well in 
Philadelphia's streets ; they remembered the 
calm, handsome face, so highly bred and yet 
so powerful ; they recalled the outspoken ad- 
miration of the citizens, the great esteem of 
his fellow members of the First Congress. 

" Can it be," said Ezra, " that Washington 
of Virginia has been chosen commander-in- 
chief by the Continental Congress I " 

" If he has," replied Nat Brewster, all 
excitement, " they have done excellently for 
the colonies. There is no nobler man in all 
America ; and from all accounts, he is a born 

The small boy disappeared into the house 
while they were speaking ; but the small dog 
remained, sniffing suspiciously and occasion- 
ally growling for them to keep their distance. 
And while they were smiling at the self-im- 
portance of the little beast, there came a full- 
toned voice saying : 




" I had not thought, Mr. Clark, to see so 
fine a farm in the Jerseys. It is splendid. 
And as I come from Virginia, where the 
plantations approach the extent of principali- 
ties, I may say that I am a judge." 

There were footsteps upon the wide verandah 
which ran about the house ; and turning in 
the direction of the sound, the boys saw a 
party of gentlemen. Nat's eyes instantly 
sought out the speaker, and at a glance he rec- 
ognized the tall, strong frame and the lofty 

And almost at the same moment the eyes 
of the great Virginian caught sight of the boy. 

** Hah I " cried he, taking a step forward, 
** here is some one I think I know, Mr. Clark.'* 

" They are strangers to me, general," spoke 
the rich farmer, staring at the boys. 
*' Travelers perhaps, young gentlemen ? " ad- 
dressing them. 

" On our way to Philadelphia," said Ezra, 
as Nat stepped upon the verandah and grasped 
the cordially extended hand of Washington. 

Nat had done Washington a splendid serv- 
ice just outside of Philadelphia some ten 
months before, and as the Virginian seldom 


forgot a face, and never a service, his hand 
grasp was warm and firm. 

" I am glad to see you. And so,** with a 
look at Ezra, '^ you are on your way to Phila- 

" Yes, general." 

Washington smiled a little. 

'* Why," said he, ** my new title seems to 
run before me like a forest fire. But," in- 
quiringly, " may I ask from what direction 
you travel ? " 

" We left Cambridge in Massachusetts some 
five days ago,'* replied Nat. 

An eager light came into the eyes of the 

** What news ? " asked he. 

" A battle has been fought,** said Nat. 

Instantly the lad was encircled by a ring of 
anxious faces. 

" And the result ? ** Washington*s voice 
was entirely without excitement. 

" The British were victorious.** 

A sort of groan went up from the little party 
of gentlemen. And it was here that Ezra 
Prentiss spoke eagerly. 

" We are bearing General Ward's report of 


the fight to Congress. And though the 
British did drive us back, we twice repulsed 
them. We would have done so the third time 
had not our powder run out. As it stands, 
they lost a thousand men and do not dare ad- 
vance beyond the ground they won." 

The gloom which settled upon the face of 
Washington at Nat Brewster's words vanished 
at those of Ezra Prentiss. 

^* The militia ? " he asked, his hand upon 
the boy's shoulder. ** How did they hold 
themselves under fire ? " 

*' Bravely," returned Ezra. " As long as 
they could fire back they showed fear of 
neither cannon-shot nor musketry." 

" That is all I wish to know," exclaimed the 
commander-in-chief. ** The cause of liberty 
is safe." 

The others then burst in with anxious and 
excited questions. Even during the dinner 
which the bountiful Mr. Clark sat the boys 
down to in a long, shaded room, this flow of 
interrogations did not stop. Both were forced 
to answer as best they could between mouth- 
fuls, but they did so with enthusiasm, for they 
were as full of the matter as their questioners. 


General Washington sat alone upon the 
verandah while the boys ate ; his eyes were 
fixed upon the broad, fertile fields and his ex- 
pression was rapt. Perhaps he saw the future, 
when he should retreat with a shattered army 
across the Jerseys, the wolf-pack of the enemy 
close behind him. And behind them again, 
the countryside in ruins I 

But when the lads came out he arose. 

*' Mr. Clark," said he, " you have been kind, 
and I thank you. And now, if you will have 
them bring out our horses, we will be on our 
way toward New York.'* 

The farmer sent some of his people to do as 
asked ; then the general turned to the boys. 

** I am about to send a messenger back to 
Philadelphia with some suggestions to Con- 
gress which this news of yours has called 
forth,'* said he, *' and if you are so inclined, 
the message of General Ward shall be sent 
by him." 

The boys hesitated a moment. 

** General," said Ezra, finally, " there is 
nothing that would please us better than to 
ride with you back to Cambridge, but " 

Washington smiled. 


** If it would please you," said he, " then you 
shall do it. As your officer, I direct you to 
turn over your dispatches to this gentleman," 
indicating a young man who stood seemingly 
ready to depart. 

Promptly Ezra drew out General Ward's 
dispatch and handed it to the rider. In a few 
moments they saw him dashing away through 
the dust to the southward ; and in a very few 
more they were heading north toward the 
theatre of war at the side of General Washing- 



From the time that Washington reached 
New York, his progress toward Cambridge 
was a constant ovation. In all the towns he 
passed through he was received by committees 
of citizens. Addresses of welcome and praise 
were read to him, cannon were fired in his 
honor, and escorts met him and saw him on 
his way. 

While he was no doubt gratified by all these 
signs of favor and indications of the people^s 
confidence, the generaPs most earnest desire 
was to reach his destination and assume the 
command entrusted to him. At Springfield a 
committee of the Massachusetts Provincial 
Congress met him ; a cavalcade of mounted 
citizens and troops escorted him into Cam- 
bridge on the second of July. 

It was about two o'clock in the afternoon 


when the commander-in-chief entered the 
town. The streets were thronged with people ; 
cheers met him upon every hand ; people 
filled windows, sheds and roof tops to do 
him honor. The various colonial flags flut- 
tered wildly ; guns roared and the troops sa- 
luted their leader with critical satisfaction. 

The next day General Washington assumed 
command of the army in due form. He at 
once rode about its posts and carefully ex- 
amined the position of the enemy. Ezra, Nat 
and Gilbert Scarlett rode with the party that 
accompanied him, he having selected the two 
former as his messengers and the latter accom- 
panying them because of his curiosity regard- 
ing the new leader. 

" He looks," Scarlett told Ezra, " like a man 
of unmistakable parts. Colonel Prescott, last 
night, was good enough to sketch his life and 
military acts for me, and I was much struck. 
At Braddock's defeat he played the part, not 
only of a man, but of a most excellent officer." 

Slowly Washington reconnoitered the Brit- 
ish lines. He found Howe strongly entrench- 
ing on Bunker Hill, advanced about half a 
mile from the late battle-field, with his sen- 


tries extending fully one hundred and fifty 
yards upon the Cambridge side of the Neck. 
Three floating batteries lay in the Mystic 
River, and a twenty-gun ship was at anchor 
below the ferry. On Roxbury Neck they 
were also strongly fortified. The bulk of the 
British army lay upon Bunker Hill ; only a 
few light horse were at this time left in Boston. 

Not a point of all this seemed to escape the 
observing eye of the Virginian ; his comments 
and directions were listened to b}^ Scarlett with 
close attention and deepening appreciation. 

The American position had grown stronger 
since the Bunker Hill fight. 

Entrenchments had been thrown up on 
Prospect and Winter Hills. From these the 
British camp was plainly in view at little 
more than a mile away. There was a strong 
work at Sewall's Farm, which, afterward, 
Washington made stronger still. At Rox- 
bury, General Thomas had thrown up a power- 
ful fortification. The New Hampshire troops 
and a regiment of Rhode Island men held 
Winter Hill. General Putnam was in com- 
mand at Prospect Hill with the greater part 
of his Connecticut regiments. The troops at 


Cambridge were all of Massachusetts Bay ; 
and the bulk of Greene's Rhode Islanders 
held SewalFs Farm. Two other regiments of 
Putnam's men and nine regiments of Massa- 
chusetts were stationed at Roxbury. Then 
there were some seven hundred men scattered 
along the coast to prevent descents of the 

In spite of all that had been done by 
earnest and competent men, it was scarcely 
an army which Washington took command 
of that July day. It was, rather, a gathering 
of armed men, for there was not much or- 

" The men are rugged, faithful and brave," 
said Ezra Prentiss to his friends that night as 
they sat at an inn called ^' The Honest 
Farmer," on the outskirts of Cambridge, to- 
ward Stark and Putnam's entrenchments. 
** But they are also independent and im- 
patient of restraint." 

''They elect to follow their own officers 
and obey no others," said Nat Brewster. 
" And if they are not pleased with what is 
going forward, whole regiments feel them- 
selves perfectly at liberty to withdraw, wait 


until their views are agreed to, or return to 
their homes." 

" General Washington will see to all that/' 
spoke Scarlett, with a nod of the head. " I 
have been giving him some attention to-day 
and I have perceived that he is not only a 
man who desires order, but one who has the 
will to achieve his desires. From this day 
on things will go differently ; men will obey 
when an order is given them ; if they do not, 
they will find that an accounting is to be 
made, not to an officer who is a friend and 
neighbor, but to one who has only the wel- 
fare of the colonies at heart." 

Ben Cooper laughed. 

**The new general has been approved by 
you, then?" said he. 

Scarlett twisted the points of his mous- 

" I am like to serve him before very long," 
returned he, soberly. ** For, under him, this 
promises to become a very pretty war, in- 

"The Honest Farmer" was a large place 
once frequented by farmers driving into 
Boston with their loads of produce. As it 


was cleanly kept, even in these lax and un- 
profitable days, it had become a favorite place 
of resort for young officers and citizens who 
liked to drop in and discuss the progress of 
events with them. 

Upon the evening in question there was 
quite a throng gathered in the public room 
and the sound of voices filled it. Upon a 
bench opposite the boys sat a portly old 
fellow with a full, red face and a downright 
manner of speaking. A mild, thin-faced 
man sat beside him, and as they talked the 
lads could not help but overhear. 

" It is all very well for a parcel of men 
such as Adams and Hancock and their agita- 
ting like, to sit safely away in Philadelphia, 
and send us a stranger to take charge of us," 
grumbled the portly man, in his downright 

*' But, surely," remonstrated the thin-faced 
man, " you would not call General Washing- 
ton a stranger." 

*' He is a stranger to me, sir," spoke the 
portly one, in an injured tone. ** And he is 
from the South. Why could we not have had 
one of our own people ? Answer me that ! " 


But the thin-faced man shook his head. 

" Congress should know what it is about," 
said he. " It must know that the general is 
fitted for his work, or it would not have sent 

" What work ? " blustered the portly man, 
and his voice was loud and domineering. 
*' What work, I ask you, sir ? " 

But the thin man again shook his head 
and looked blank. 

** The work to be done is to drive the 
British out of Boston," stated the red-faced 
man with the portly figure. **To drive them 
out of Boston so that we can go back and 
resume our trades and occupations. That's 
what he's sent to do. But," and he chal- 
lenged the room with both voice and eye, 
" how is he going to do it ? " 

'' Faith," laughed a gray-haired major, who 
stood near, " he has him there." 

But the thin-faced man unexpectedly had 
an answer. 

*' He will attack them," he declared 
valiantly. *' He will attack them as soon as 

The portly man snorted his disgust. 


" Attack them/' he repeated scornfully. 
" But plague on it, sir, what will he attack 
them with ? I am no military man, but I 
know that he can't move on them with his 
bare hands. To attack successfully," and the 
stout palm of the speaker struck the bench 
with a resounding whack, " he must have 
artillery — heavy artillery." 

The thin-faced man had no reply to make 
to this. But the gray-haired major spoke in 
his stead. 

" You may be no military man, as you say, 
sir," said he, ** but you are quite right, for all. 
To reach Gage in his den we must have guns 
that will throw great weight a long distance." 

The portly man's red face glistened with 

" Sir," said he cordially, " it is a great satis- 
faction to speak to a man of understanding. 
You have the intelligence, apparently, to 
grasp a situation. And I ask you, sir, as a 
man of intelligence," impressively, " where 
those guns are to come from ? " 

It was the gray-haired major who now shook 
his head. 

'* You have a faculty of asking difiB.cult 


questions, I perceive, sir," laughed he. " And 
that is one which I must allow to pass me 

More and more triumphant grew the gen- 
tleman with the red face. 

" We haven't them,'' he declared loudly. 
** We haven't them. And, more than that, we 
cannot get them." 

*' Don't be too sure of that," said a quiet 
voice from a bench in a corner. " Don't be 
too sure of that, Mr. Trivitt. There are guns 
a-plenty to be had, if they will but be sought 

The portly Mr. Trivitt glanced toward the 
corner, and scorn filled his red face. 

" Huh ! " he grunted. ** Because you served 
in the militia, Harry Knox, and because you 
went tearing about on horseback at the 
Bunker Hill fight, don't think that you can 
teach me understanding. I was a man before 
you were born, and I have the sense to see 
what is open to my eyes." 

Harry Knox, as Mr. Trivitt called him, was 
a medium-sized young man, well built and 
with a strong, intelligent face. He laughed 
at the other's words, and replied : 


"But it is possible, Mr. Trivitt, that all 
things do not come beneath your eyes.'* 

To one so self-important as the portly man 
this was little less than an insult. 

** It is a pity that you were forced by the 
war to give up the selling of books," said he 
to Knox. " I have heard, though I've never 
read a book in my life, that you were clever 
in your trade. But in the trade of a soldier 
you promise to be less excellent." He arose 
to his feet with great dignity. " However," 
he continued, " I never discuss matters of im- 
portance with youths. It is a waste of time 
and breath." 

And with that the indignant Mr. Trivitt 
stuck his three-cornered hat upon his head and 
stumped out of " The Honest Farmer " much 

Ezra caught the eye of Henry Knox and 
nodded to him. Young Prentiss had in- 
herited his father's love of books, and had 
many times purchased volumes from the 
youthful bookseller at his shop in Boston ; in- 
deed, in the discussions that accompanied 
these transactions, quite an intimacy had 
sprung up between them. 


Knox arose and approached the boys cor- 
dially. He was but twenty-five himself at this 
time, and had many boyish traits still. 

** I am glad to see you once more/' said he 
to Ezra, as they shook hands. " I noticed 
you and your friends, here,'' with a smile at 
the others, *' as Prescott fell back from the hill 
on the day of the fight ; but of course there was 
no time then for any exchanges, except with 
the enemy." 

The others were made known to him ; he sat 
down with them and began to talk over the 
coming of Washington and the things that 
were to be expected of the new commander. 
At length, during a lull in the conversation, 
Gilbert Scarlett said : 

" You did but jest with your fat friend, Mr. 
Trivitt, I suppose, with regard to the heavy 

But young Knox shook his head. 

" No," said he, *' I spoke seriously enough. 
If General Washington wants heavier and 
more cannon than he already has, they are to 
be had for the journeying after them." 

Seeing the look of interest upon the faces of 
his listeners, he continued : 


" It is a simple matter enough. We have 
all heard of the success of Colonel Ethan Allan 
and young Arnold at Ticonderoga and Crown 
Point. Both these strongholds have been 
captured from the British and both are pro- 
vided with heavy guns. A party, equipped 
with proper authority, could bring these on to 
Cambridge with some little effort. '^ 

" I am not acquainted with the country be- 
tween here and the captured strongholds," said 
Gilbert Scarlett, delightedly, for the idea 
seemed to appeal powerfully to his imagina- 
tion, "but the project is one of exceptional 
quality. I congratulate you, sir." 

" Thank you," said Knox. " I am obliged 
to you. I have mentioned it to others — Gen- 
eral Ward, for example, and he fancied it im- 

" I have all respect for General Ward," an- 
swered Scarlett, ** but you'll pardon me if I 
say that he's too conservative. You'd gain a 
friend to your plan at once if you spoke to 
General Putnam or Stark, or one of their kind. 
A man must have a spice of daring to grasp 

After that night the boys saw a great deal 


of Henry Knox. Indeed, also, he gradually 
came to be a man of importance in the camp. 
For his services at Bunker Hill he was made 
a colonel ; and a practical, enterprising officer 
he proved to be. 

The days went on, and Washington labored 
with the force newly under his command. 
Powder continued to be a scarce article in the 
camp. At no time was there above nine 
rounds to a man, and with this slender supply, 
the general had to maintain a constantly ex- 
tending line of posts — posts always exposed to 
the concentrated assaults of well-ordered vet- 
erans. But he clung grimly to the task ; lit- 
tle by little his ideas began to be seen, order 
gradually arose out of confusion ; his briga- 
diers grasped his intentions readily, and so 
things began to shape themselves as he wanted 

More than twenty thousand able men were 
desired to carry out Washington's designs. 
There were only seventeen thousand enrolled ; 
and of these less than fifteen thousand were fit 
for service. Recruiting was carried on through- 
out New England. Eloquent speakers ha- 
rangued village crowds, and their highly 


colored words drew the young men constantly 
to the camp at Cambridge. 

The environs of Boston at this time pre- 
sented an animated sight. Fortifications were 
everywhere ; men labored for the cause of lib- 
erty with mattock and spade ; they drilled 
ceaselessly ; whole towns, so it seemed, were 
given up to the military ; white tents were 
pitched in orderly lines in the fields. Only a 
century before the two principal passes into 
Boston — Charlestown Neck and Boston Neck 
— had been fortified to save the town from the 
Indians and so preserve American civilization. 
Now the hills that commanded these same 
passes were peopled with the descendants of 
those who had formerly defended them and 
they were arrayed in the pride of war ; their 
hands were raised against the oppressive gov- 
ernment that should have fostered them, but 
which, instead, sought to crush them out. 

While Washington was bringing order to his 
army and strengthening his position, he was 
also constantly seeking to confine the opera- 
tions of the enemy and cut off their supply of 
provisions. Attacks were carefully guarded 
against; parties in whale boats were afloat 


each night to watch the waters ; the American 
pickets grew as keen as night-birds, so accus- 
tomed were they to search the darkness. 

Sudden assaults, made by parties on both 
sides, marked the summer, and the fighting on 
the islands continued. British transports ar- 
rived from time to time, filled with additional 
troops ; now and then the King's batteries 
opened fire upon an American work which 
they fancied was being pushed too far ; on the 
sea, the Yankee privateers were increasing in 
numbers and in power ; scarcely a week 
passed that the city did not receive news of 
some daring deed of theirs. 

Then finally the long expected party of 
Southern riflemen arrived. These had enlisted 
at the first echo of the war and they had 
marched from four to seven hundred miles 
in their anxiety to face their country's 

They were bronzed, hardy looking men, 
dressed in hunting-shirts and coonskin caps. 
They carried rifles, the length of which caused 
the boys to open their eyes. 

" They look like marksmen," said Ezra 
Prentiss. " I have heard that the backwoods- 


men in their colony are very expert with the 

As though to prove this, a party of the 
Southerners passed in review before the com- 
manders shortly after they reached the camp. 
While advancing quickly, and at a distance of 
two hundred and fifty yards, they fired at a 
target seven inches in diameter. And each 
bullet found the mark I 

Washington at once ordered these riflemen 
stationed at the outposts. Here they made 
themselves terrible to the British, and day by 
day this terror increased. Whatever they 
fired at they hit ; and soon the King's out- 
posts dreaded to move except under cover. 
Rumors of the remarkable shooting of these 
men reached even so far as England ; and one 
of them, who was made prisoner, was taken 
there. The newspapers described him with 
great minuteness ; and the British public 
swarmed to see him and the motto " Liberty 
or Death " which he wore upon the breast of 
his hunting-shirt in common with his fel- 

Several times Washington tried to force the 
hand of Gage, as in his occupation of Ploughed 


Hill. But the British refused to accept the 
challenge. They bombarded the position, to 
be sure, and kept it up for the greater part of 
two weeks, but finally the firing ceased. 
During this summer, also, the celebrated 
Liberty Tree in Boston was attacked by the 
furious Tories and ruthlessly cut down. 

October had arrived and the coming frost 
was felt in the night air. And as the chill 
grew deeper, the public room of '' The Honest 
Farmer " grew more and more a place of re- 
sort for citizens and officers. One night the 
four boys had gathered there in company with 
Gilbert Scarlett. They sat before a slow fire 
of green wood, which served very w^ell to take 
the discomfort out of the air, and were talking 
together upon topics of the time and listening 
to the sayings of those about them. 

It seemed that ''The Honest Farmer," be- 
sides being a very pleasant inn, was a great 
place for grumblers. And just now some 
citizens, gathered about an oaken table, saw 
fit to criticize General Washington for what 
they called his inaction. 

*' What can he mean ? " demanded one. " If 
the British wull not come out to him, he should 


go in to them. This state of affairs, at the 
present rate, will continue on forever.'' 

" He was sent here to drive them out. Let 
him show that he is competent by at least at- 
tempting to do so," grumbled another. 

Thus they went on ; each had his say in the 
matter and each said it churlishly and discon- 

" To be a military commander,'' spoke Gilbert 
Scarlett to the boys, his booted legs stretched 
out to the fire, " is not to lie upon a bed of 
roses. Here we have a party of gentlemen 
who will speak their minds upon a subject 
upon which they have no information. They 
would have General Washington charge upon 
a strong position without powder enough to 
wake General Gage from his sleep. Apparently 
they possess rare enterprise, but their discre- 
tion is small, indeed." 

While he spoke Colonel Knox entered the 
room ; after greeting some friends he made 
his way directly to where the boys were sit- 
ting. He was dressed in the blue uniform 
faced with white which had grown so familiar 
in those early days of the war ; his face was 
bronzed through exposure to the weather, and 


his eyes were bright and full of a newly 
kindled eagerness. 

He shook hands with the lads ; that he was 
a colonel and they but enlisted men made no 
difference in that democratic time. And after 
he had greeted Scarlett, who made room for 
him at the fire, the young colonel sat down. 

" Have you noticed a tinge of frost in the 
air ? " asked he, as he rubbed his hands 
briskly. *' It will be a hard, cold winter, I 
think, when it is once upon us. It is always 
so when there is so early a beginning.'* 

" It was midsummer when we saw you here 
last," said Ezra. " You remember the night 
that you told us about the guns at Crown 
Point and Ticonderoga." 

The boy's words were followed by a curious 
interruption. A mug, partly filled, shattered 
upon the brick paved floor near by ; they 
turned surprised and saw a man, apparently 
advanced in years, bent over a table, his back 
turned to them. The hand that had held the 
mug hung at his side, trembling as though 
with palsy ; his whole attitude was as of one 
stricken with some sudden shock. 

Two others sat with the man ; they wore 


the dress of seafarers, and while one was of 
commanding proportions, the other was small. 
The heads of both were bent toward the old 
man ; and the boys could see little of them 
except that they were dark and wore their sail- 
cloth hats pulled low over their foreheads. 

After a glance the other lads gave their at- 
tention once more to Colonel Knox. But 
Ezra continued to watch narrowly the actions 
of the three. As the boys had come along in 
the dusk toward " The Honest Farmer *^ he 
had noticed some figures that seemed to cling 
to their shadows. He had, also, a dim sort 
of consciousness that these same figures had 
entered the inn after them. And now some- 
thing whispered to him that these were the 
same — that the men had a purpose in being 
where they were — that their selection of seats 
so near to his friends and himself was no acci- 

" And," he told himself in a puzzled sort 
of way, " they seem familiar. I somehow feel 
that I have met with them before." 

He examined the strangers narrowly ; in a 
few moments the old man recovered and 
seemed to be talking guardedly to his com- 


panions ; and the boy, more than once, caught 
a ferret-like look from the smaller of the two 
seamen that impressed him queerly. More 
and more he felt that these were persons whom 
he had known before. 

But while he was watching the strangers, 
he was also listening to the remarks of his 
friends as they spoke to Colonel Knox. Some 
little time passed ; then the colonel said, ad- 
dressing them all : 

*^ I came here to-night in the hope of seeing 
you. It just happens that there is something 
toward that makes me require the help of a 
few young spirits who will not hesitate at a 
little risk." 

'* We feel flattered," said Nat Brewster, with 
a smile, " that you should think of us." 

Ben Cooper bent forward. 

*' It has something to do with the big guns 
at Ticonderoga," said he. 

Colonel Knox laughed. 

" You are a clever guesser, Master Cooper," 
said he. 

" It was no guess," replied Ben. *' Vve 
known all along that you'd not give up that 
idea of yours. I knew that if you'd get per- 


mission, you'd be oflf to the captured forts at 
once and try to carry it out." 

Ezra, watching the three strangers, fancied 
them rigid with attention, but at the same time 
making a show of keeping up a conversation 
of their own. Once he was about calling his 
friends' attention to this, but the fear that it 
might, after all, be but imagination upon his 
part, deterred him. 

" You are right," said the young colonel. 
" The notion was a pet of mine because I 
thought it practical and likely to succeed. 
But I've had great difficulty in convincing 
others. When they thought of the vast 
wilderness to be crossed, the lakes and streams, 
they scouted the plan. It could not be done, 
they said ; those great cannon could never be 
dragged so tremendous a distance through such 
a country. 

" But at length I got the ear of the com- 
mander-in-chief. I flattered myself that he 
thought me no fool ; for he has a way of look- 
ing at one that tells its own story. 

** * Heavy ordnance is badly needed,' he said, 
'and this would be welcome, indeed, if we 
could but secure it I ' Then he fixed me with 


one of his looks and asked : * How would you 
go about getting it here ? ' 

*' ' I would start in the early fall/ I said. * On 
the way 1 would collect sledges. By the time 
I reached Ticonderoga, transacted my business 
and was ready to return, the lakes would be 
frozen over. I could load the guns upon the 
sledges and so cross the ice. And so it will be 
through the wilderness. Lack of roads will not 
affect me ; the snow will be there and the travel- 
ing will be as smooth as it can well be.' 

'^ He seemed much struck with this idea and 
took it under consideration. And now he has 
given his consent.^' 

" And you are going ! " cried George Prentiss, 

" As soon as I can collect the small party 
that is to accompany me.'' 

** And that's why you sought us out I " ex- 
claimed Nat, his face glowing in the firelight. 
** Good I Shall we go, lads ? " turning to the 

A chorus arose that caused the other fre- 
quenters of *'The Honest Farmer" to turn 
about in mild surprise. 

"You could not have done us a greater 


kindness," said Ezra Prentiss to Colonel Knox. 
"The work of the camp is, of course, willingly 
undertaken by us all ; but this is the sort of 
service that we most like.'* 

" If you are pleased to go,'' returned the 
young colonel, " why, for the matter of that, I 
am equally pleased to have you. I have heard 
the stories of your doings since this war began ; 
and of the services you rendered even before it 
started. They've long been abroad in the 
camp, as have the words uttered in your praise 
by Colonel Prescott, Mr. Adams, General Put- 
nam and even Washington himself" 

As the lads chorused their low-voiced agree- 
ment to ride with Colonel Knox upon this mis- 
sion which promised so much, Gilbert Scarlett 
drew his sword belt tighter and leaned forward 
toward that officer. 

" Sir," spoke he, " if you could contrive to 
make room for a volunteer in your company, I 
should be most pleased to make this venture 
under your leadership. It is true," and he 
waved his hand in a gesture of depreciation, 
" that I am not of this country and am rather a 
stranger to you all. But," here he reared his 
head proudly, " I have had some small experi- 


ence in onfalls, ambuscades, sieges and other 
forms of warfare, in various parts of the world. 
So it is possible that I might be of service to 

'* Mr. Scarlett," said Colonel Knox, promptly, 
" I have heard of you. I accept your offer 
and am delighted to have you." 

They talked for some little time upon the 
matter ; then the young colonel arose. 

" Just when I shall start," said he, " is a 
matter of doubt ; but it will not be until I can 
be sure of the ice and snow, which will act 
such important parts in my plan. However, 
when we do start," and he said this with quiet 
confidence, ** we will make all speed and it will 
not be long thereafter until the King's guns 
will be turned upon his governor. And then 
Boston shall be ours ! " 

The boys and Scarlett accompanied him to 
the door and out into the night. Here the 
colonel began saying something that seemed 
to interest them ; and all but Ezra walked 
along with him toward his quarters. 

Ezra, as he gave a quick look over his 
shoulder in the doorway, saw the three men at 
the inn table arise. He closed the door ; and 


as his friends walked slowly away with Colonel 
Knox, he stepped back into the shadow and 

It was the smaller of the two sailor-like men 
who opened the door of '* The Honest Farmer/' 
His thin face went this way and that, appar- 
ently in quest of those who had just left. As 
he caught the cautious questioning way the 
man had of holding his head, Ezra gasped in 

" It's Jason Collyer ! " he muttered. 

Collyer's two friends appeared directly be- 
hind him. As he saw him in motion, Ezra had 
no difficulty in recognizing the larger of these. 

" It's Abdallah," he told himself. *' There 
is no mistaking that measured step." 

** They have gone in that direction," said 
Collyer, pointing down the dark street. 
" Shall we follow them ? " 

** There is no need," spoke Abdallah, and 
his voice was as smooth as ever. ** We have 
learned all that they can tell." 

" It was luck that made you want to follow 
them here when you saw them on the way," 
said Collyer to the old man. '' I confess, sir, 
I thought it but a waste of time, myself." 


The door of " The Honest Farmer " was 
now closed ; but from a window a broad beam 
of light streamed out upon the stones. The 
men stood upon the margin of this and could 
be plainly seen as they faced away from Ezra, 
their eyes trying to follow Colonel Knox and 
the boys. 

** Fortune," said Abdallah, " is a queer 
thing. Sometimes it smiles upon us ; and at 
others, it frowns. And all for no reason that 
we can see. Take that last night at my 
house for example. Everything had gone 
well, when suddenly that boy " — and he 
pointed down the dark street, ^' rode up and 
changed everything by his shrewdness." 

Here the old man gestured angrily and 
was about to speak. But Abdallah stopped 

" It is no time for faultfinding or resent- 
ment," said he, gently. " Rather it is one for 
self-congratulation. He beat us then, but we 
will beat him now. When they ride to 
Ticonderoga for the guns, they will have 
their labor for their pains. We," and he 
laughed softly, " will have been there ahead 
of them." 


" Don't be so sure of that/' said Ezra Pren- 
tiss, quietly. 

He took a step forward as he spoke. The 
men whirled about with exclamations and 
stood staring at him as the light from the 
window fell upon his face. At the same time 
a steady tramp of feet was heard ; the flash of 
lanthorns came up and down the street. Pa- 
trols of continentals were coming from both 

*' It is always best to make sure of what 
you say before you say it," resumed the boy. 
** When we reach Ticonderoga, the guns will 
still be there ; but you will be here, awaiting 
the judgment of a drumhead court, as spies." 

A gasp of dismay went up from the ferret- 
like Collyer ; but Abdallah held up a hand 
for silence. He addressed Ezra. 

"Spies?" said he, gently. "That would 
be a rough-hewn fate indeed. Think what is 
meted out to such offenders." 

*' It is death," said Ezra, solemnly. 

" And would you deliver us up to that ? " 

"It is not for me to pass judgment," 
answered the lad. " I leave that for my 


** But/' and there was a curious note in 
Abdallah's voice that caught the boy's atten- 
tion, '* you shall decide, for all ! And your 
decision will be in our favor/' 

** You shall see in a moment," spoke Ezra 
Prentiss, gravely. ** Here comes the Ameri- 
can patrol. What is to hinder my giving 
you up to them ? " 

'' This," said Abdallah. 

As he spoke he thrust the old man, who 
bore him company, forward suddenly. For 
the first time, Ezra saw this latter plainly. 

" Grandfather," he cried chokingly. 

The old merchant lifted a hand as though 
about to denounce the lad; but Abdallah 
drew him back with a fierce whispered word 
of warning. 

"If we are spies," then said Abdallah to 
Ezra, " so is your grandfather. If you give 
us up to those men," and his eyes went to- 
ward the patrols, who were now abreast of 
them, " you must also give him up. And 
remember," all the gentleness out of his voice 
and manner, ** to give him up means death ! " 

He paused a moment and then said with a 
low laugh : 


" Speak up ; what shall it be ? Shall we 
go or stay ? " 

And Ezra, his heart frozen with fear, stared 
first at the patrols and then at his grand- 
father. Then both hands went up and he 
gestured them stupidly away. 

Instantly they turned and obeyed ; within 
a moment the night had swallowed them up ; 
but still the boy stood there as one turned to 

**To save my grandfather^s life, I have 
made myself a traitor to the cause," he whis- 
pered to himself. ** But I could not help it," 
a sob swelling in his throat, ** I could not 
help it." 



For two days Ezra Prentiss was burdened 
with the thought of what he had done. His 
friends wondered at his pale face and dejected 
manner ; they questioned him, but could get 
nothing but evasive replies. 

But one morning as the lad arose he de- 
termined to have done with it all. 

" If I have misserved the colonies/' said 
he, " I am not fitted to be at liberty.*' 

Within an hour he was at the quarters of 
General Putnam ; and a few moments later 
found him in the presence of that bluff war- 

" Well," inquired Putnam, who was still at 
breakfast, " and what is it now, Master Pren- 
tiss, that you should be so intent of face? " 

Ezra, in as few words as possible, told his 
story. Putnam went on with his breakfast, 



listening and making no comment. When 
the tale was done he leaned back in his chair 
and looked at the lad with pursed lips. 

** The situation was a pretty one/^ said he. 
" It was do your stern duty and send your 
grandsire to his death ; or allow him to go 
free and those two rascals with him. In the 
same position/* continued he, a twinkle in his 
eye, " I should have been tempted to do as 
you have done, and no doubt I should have 
done it." 

** But do you not see what danger I have 
placed this mission of Colonel Knox in ? " 
cried the lad. 

** I must say that I do not," said Putnam, 
good-humoredly, as he recommenced upon 
his breakfast. *' Ticonderoga and Crown 
Point are in the hands of our people and are 
well guarded. There are not enough British 
troops in Canada to make an advance upon 
them ; and for Gage to do anything is out of 
the question. 

" The only thing that could be done would 
be a secret expedition by this man Abdallah 
and any followers that he might have. And 
even that would be so difficult as to make it 


all but impossible. So make your mind easy, 
my lad. You have done no great harm." 

Ezra went surprisedly from the presence of 
Putnam. But he was not satisfied, and at 
once sought Colonel Knox at Washington's 
headquarters. This young soldier listened to 
the boy's frankly told story. When it was 
done, he said with a smile : 

" Perhaps this will hasten our departure a 
trifle, but that is all. Don't worry about 
what you have done. Under the circum- 
stances your action was perfectly natural. 
None of us is a Brutus. All of us would find 
it hard, I hope, to give up those nearest to us 
to death." 

But for all that Colonel Knox thought that 
the advent of the spies would hasten his 
movements, the start was not made until the 
following month. During the interim, Ezra 
suffered keenly. A dozen times the delay 
seemed more than he could endure. His 
imagination teemed with pictures of happen- 
ings at the two strongholds in the wilderness ; 
in his sleep he saw parties of British take 
them a score of times ; he witnessed the sink- 
ing of the heavy guns in the depths of the 


lake ; he saw Abdallah's and Jason Collyer's 
grins of derision at his frantic, dream-heavy 
efforts to prevent this ; and always he'd awake 
crying out to his friends to come to his aid. 

More than once he reached the point, in 
his desperation, of saddling his horse with the 
idea of setting out alone. 

** If I ride on in advance, I may be able to 
spoil any plan that they may have laid," he 
told himself. 

But each time, second thought showed him 
how profitless such an effort would be. He 
must wait for Colonel Knox, if he was to be 
of any value. Alone he could accomplish 

His heart leaped one evening when he re- 
ceived word that the expedition would start 
early next morning. At the time the intelli- 
gence reached him he was standing within 
the Roxbury works, watching the cannonade 
of the British, which had broken out from 
shore batteries and shipping a short time be- 
fore. The roar of the guns was in perfect har- 
mony with the exultation that filled the boy's 

" At last," he cried to Ben Cooper, who had 


brought the news, " at last I'll have a chance 
to do something." 

Ben, like the other boys, had heard noth- 
ing of Ezra's experience upon the night at 
** The Honest Farmer " ; so now he stared in 
wonderment at his friend's display of feeling. 
But as Ezra made no explanation, the other 
asked no questions ; however, he now and 
then stole a curious look at the flushed boy at 
his side. 

'* Something's wrong," Ben told himself. 
** I've noticed that he's acted very queerly of 
late. Whatever it is, it's got a deep hold on 
him, for I don't remember ever seeing him 
look just this way before." 

At sunrise next morning a well-equipped 
troop of horse was drawn up before Colonel 
Knox's quarters. Beside Ezra, Nat, Ben, 
George and Scarlett, there were a dozen hardy 
young fellows whose bold faces and stalwart 
frames told of a willingness to face hardship 
and the power to endure it. They were all 
armed with rifle and pistol ; axes hung at 
their saddles ; heavy coats and blankets for 
use amid the rigors of the North country were 
strapped securely behind them. 


When Knox at last appeared and mounted, 
the troop rode to Washington's quarters. 
Here both the commander-in-chief and Gen- 
eral Putnam reviewed them. 

After nodding his approval of both the 
, party's appearance and equipment, Washing- 
ton said : 

" How long shall you be on the way ? " 

" I calculated some two weeks for the going, 
general," replied the young colonel. " But 
we shall be longer upon the return trip, for 
then we shall have the guns." 

Putnam laughed at this confident answer. 
A flicker of a smile crossed Washington's 
grave face ; but there was a light of satisfac- 
tion in his eyes as he said : 

" That you will have them, colonel, I feel 

Following the example of the officers, the 
troop saluted ; then at the word, they wheeled 
and went at a swinging pace through the 
streets of Cambridge. 

The way north was rough — sometimes even 
trackless. But there was with the party a 
youth of the name of Bennet, who had been 
one of Allan's Green Mountain Boys, and had 


been with that gallant leader at the taking of 
the two strongholds of the North. He knew 
every mile of the way, was of vast service in 
pointing out fords, locating towns, and pick- 
ing short ways through the forests and hills. 

Sometimes they passed the nights at iso- 
lated villages ; at others they camped in 
sheltered spots and rolled themselves in their 
blankets upon the ground. The air grew 
chiller as the days went by ; and as they ap- 
proached the cold lake regions it grew more 
so. Their heavy coats and warmer clothing 
felt very comfortable by the time the first 
snow fell. 

" And now," said Colonel Knox one morn- 
ing to Ezra, as he surveyed the wild, snow- 
covered stretch before him with no little satis- 
faction, *' is the time to collect our sledges. 
Horses or oxen we shall also want ; and men 
to drive them would not be at all amiss.'* 

The troop was that day split up into parties 
with orders to make a sweep of the region for 
sledges and teams as they advanced. They 
covered a good dozen miles of country in their 
progress and from the first luck was with them. 
Sledges were to be had with gratifying fre- 


quency, also teams of oxen and shaggy, powerful 
looking horses. Young backwoodsmen willing 
to venture upon the journey as drivers were 
also to be found. Faint echoes of the war had 
reached them in their remote villages ; to see 
a troop of uniformed men belonging to the 
army of their country gave them a thrill of 
expectancy and filled them with a desire to go 
where the issue of the battle was drawn, where 
blows were being struck, and the far-off King 

Ezra Prentiss, Ben Cooper and Scarlett 
formed one party of sledge hunters. The sec- 
tion given them to cover was rough and 
boulder-strewn, with only here and there a 
dirt road or path. Houses were infrequent 
and clearings in the thick woods rarer still. 
It was a country of trappers and hunters rather 
than of farmers ; now and then one of these 
hardy fellows was seen making a tour of his 
traps or wading in a cold stream with the 
fresh pelts of fur-bearing animals hanging 
from his belt. 

Once, however, they heard the distant ring 
of an axe ; they made their way through a 
thick growth of timber and came upon a log 


house where a young woman and child were 
visible. Some little distance off a young man 
was seen cutting down a tree. When they 
approached him and made their errand known, 
he looked surprised. 

" You've been through this section before, 
haven't you ? " he asked. 

'' No," replied Ezra. 

The look of surprise upon the young man's 
face deepened. 

"That's queer," he said. "Tom Hadley, 
who lives down the creek aways, was in 
Skenesboro a couple of weeks ago for provi- 
sions ; and he met a man who inquired about 
sledges and offered to buy up all that he could 

A shock ran through Ezra. 

" Did Hadley say what kind of a man he 
was ? " he asked. 

" Yes ; he was tall and well made. And 
Tom said he looked like some kind of a 

Ezra felt sure that it was Abdallah, but de- 
sired to make sure. 

" He was a rough spoken kind of a man too, 
I suppose," he insinuated. 


But the backwoodsman shook his head. 

" No," he replied. " It was just the other 
way. Tom says the man was the smoothest 
talker and had the softest ways of any man he 
ever struck." 

" They are ahead of us," thought Ezra in a 
sort of panic. " They will have secured all 
the sledges and horses — we will be left help- 
less to do anything." 

But that night when the troop drew to- 
gether at the point named for the camp, the 
boy found Colonel Knox very well pleased in- 
deed. Five drivers had been picked up, three 
span of oxen and some half dozen heavy 

When Ezra told him what he had heard, 
Colonel Knox said : 

" They seem very enterprising ; but we have 
no occasion for worry, for they seem to be 
meeting with little success. And even did 
they collect all the sledges on the route, don't 
forget that we could change our route. An- 
other thing ; there is plenty of timber ; we 
cbuld build our own sledges, if put to it." 

Ezra saw the truth of this. But still he 
could not help a feeling of fear, for he knew 


that Abdallah was a man of resource and 
daring ; and what a person of that sort would 
do next was never to be guessed. 

When they reached Shoreham, Colonel 
Knox had collected forty-two sledges in all. 
These were at once hauled across the frozen 
lake to the fort and the officer in charge made 
acquainted with the nature of the expedition. 

No time was lost by the energetic Knox. 
The very next day he set to work select- 
ing what cannon he thought would be re- 
quired, both at Ticonderoga and Crown Point. 
His band of hardy adventurers, ably assisted 
by the little garrison of the forts, loaded these 
securel}' upon the sledges. In all there were 
thirteen brass and twenty-six iron cannon ; 
eight brass and six iron mortars. Also there 
were twenty-three hundred pounds of lead for 
bullets, and a barrel of flints. 

All was ready one night and as Colonel 
Knox desired to have nothing delay him, he 
gave the order to move at once. 

" To-night," he said, ** the ice upon the 
lake will bear us. To-morrow morning it 
may be so that we could not venture across." 

The oxen were being yoked and the horses 






harnessed to the sledges when Ezra approached 
his commander with a salute. 

'' Colonel," said he, anxiously, " would it 
not be well to send out an advance ? The ice, 
even now, may not be as safe as you think.'' 

There was something in his tone that at- 
tracted Knox's attention. 

" What has made you think that?" asked he. 

Ezra flushed in the light of the pine torches. 

** Since the night of which I told you," said 
he, *^ I have been so anxious that my nerves 
and senses often play me false. It may be so 
now, but a while ago," and his eyes went out 
across the frozen stretch of water, striving to 
pierce the darkness that overhung it, " I 
thought I saw a glimmer of light out there." 

" It was probably the ice throwing back the 
flashing of the torches," said Colonel Knox. 
" But," kindly, ** if you have any doubts in the 
matter it would be as well to settle them at 
once. Suppose you take a few men and look 
about before we start with the guns." 

"Thank you, colonel," said the lad, grate- 
fully, " I shall do so." 

He at once called together Nat, Ben Cooper, 
Scarlett and his brother George. 


" See to your arms/* he said, quietly. And 
as they examined the priming of rifle and 
pistol, he continued : *' We are going to cross 
the lake in the most direct route. Let no one 
speak unless compelled to ; and even then, not 
above a whisper.*' 

All five left the circle of light and advanced 
across the ice. They had pulled heavy moc- 
casins over their boots upon approaching the 
lake in the first place, in order to secure their 
footing upon the smooth surface ; these now 
deadened their footfalls as they carefully made 
their way along. 

Almost two-thirds of the distance had been 
traversed when Ezra suddenly paused. His 
outstretched hands brought the others to a 
halt also. 

" Hark ! " said Ezra, softly. 

All stood motionless for a time. At length 
Nat Brewster whispered : 

'* I fancied that I heard something, but I 
could not make out what it was.*' 

Here Nat felt Ezra's hand close over his 
arm in a powerful grip. At once he became 
silent and all stood bending forward, listen- 
ing once more. 


From some distance across the ice came a 
faint, rasping noise. Now and then a quicker 
and heavier sound reached them. It was 
as though blows were being struck. 

*' Do you understand ? " breathed Ezra. 
** Some one is cutting through the ice I It's a 
trap ! The sledges are to cross this way." 

The sharp hissing of indrawn breaths told 
him that they appreciated the situation. 

"That rasping, now, is made by a saw," 
said Scarlett, guardedly. " I can see their 
plan, whoever they are. And a rarely pretty 
one it is. They will saw, in part, a stretch of 
ice that we were almost sure to cross. When 
we reached it, the ice would give way, and 
we, perhaps, but the cannon surely, would 
go to the bottom of the lake." 

** Ready with your rifles," whispered Ezra. 

Softly they stole forward. Clearer and 
clearer grew the sounds, and finally they 
were able to discern a dozen or more laboring 
forms in the darkness. 

** Now," said Ezra, as he sank to one knee 
and threw his rifle forward, ** fire when I 
give the word." 

His comrades crouched beside him, their 


weapons leveled. And just then there came 
the gentle voice of Abdallah through the 

" I think this will be a surprise, Jason 
Collyer. What do you say ? '* 

A chuckling laugh followed this, appar- 
ently from the ferret-faced young man. And 
just then Ezra spoke the word, the five rifles 
rang out and a chorus of shrieks rang out in 
the stillness. There was a huddle of falling 
men, a scattering of others, then Ezra 
shouted : 

" The pistols ! '^ 

Like lightning the heavy pistols were 
drawn ; angrily they spat their messengers 
into the darkness in the direction of the run- 
ning feet. From the direction of Ticonderoga 
came a swirl of moving lights. Then a score 
of men hurried up. Colonel Knox at their 
head ; and their flaring torches lit up the 

" You were right, then," said Knox as he 
took in the situation at a glance. " And it 
was just such a trap as we would have walked 
into blindly." 

A half hour later, the sledges, with their 


precious burden of guns, crossed the lake at a 
point higher up ; and away they trailed 
through the wilderness, over the snow, while 
behind them, among the others, lay Jason 
CoUyer and Abdallah, their darkened eyes 
turned up toward the starless sky. 



The snow was deep and the sledge teams 
had heavy going at first. But, after a few 
da3^s, the snow began to pack, and the prog- 
ress of Colonel Knox's party became more 
easy. There was little or no difiSculty with 
the streams ; these were frozen solid, for the 
winter had developed into a remarkably 
severe one. 

However, fresh falls of snow now and then 
impeded their advance, and they were con- 
tent to make very few miles a day ; but they 
pushed doggedl}^ on, nevertheless, for they 
knew that their burden was urgently needed 
at Cambridge. 

It was at Fort George that Ezra and Ben 
Cooper left the party and rode forward to 
Boston bearing the news of the expedition's 

The lads never forgot the look of triumph 
that swept into Washington's face as he read 



the dispatch. Generals Putnam and Ward 
and Colonel Prescott were with him at the 
time and he read the missive aloud to them. 
It ran : 

" ' December 17th. 
" * I hope in sixteen or seventeen days to 
present to your Excellency a noble train of 
artillery, the inventory of which I have en- 
closed.* " 

Then he read the inventory, and the boys 
saw the eyes of the other officers kindle. 

" Now that," cried Putnam, striking the 
table a mighty blow, ** is something like 1 '* 

" It would seem," commented General Ward, 
" that fortune has thought it worth while to 
smile upon us for once, at any rate." 

'* With the shells and powder from the 
King's stores at New York and the cargo of 
the ordnance brig lately captured," spoke 
Prescott, " we now have a comparative plenty 
of ammunition. What is there now to hinder 
us from moving to the reduction of Boston ? " 

** Nothing but the opportunity of doing so 
without injury to those of our own people 
who are still therein," replied the commander- 


Great events had happened in the past few 
months. Not the least of these was the recall 
of General Gage by the British ministry and 
the appointment of Howe in his place. Wash- 
ington had practically discharged one army 
and recruited another in the face of the 
enemy. The colonies were making a united 
effort toward liberty ; for until this time New 
England had borne alone the brunt of the up- 

The lads found the Porcupine at their quart- 
ers, and in a conversation with that small but 
very shrewd person, they learned a great deal 
of what had taken place. 

" Last month,** said the dwarf, as he sat 
cross-legged before them upon a wide settle, 
while they ate of the good food set before 
them, '* there was a party of British light 
infantry landed at Lechmere's Point. They 
desired to take off some cattle ; but Colonel 
Patterson and our riflemen objected and there 
was a brisk fight in which the British were 
driven off." 

*' Have our men been keeping their hearts 
up?" asked Ezra. 

" Fairly well. But last month things were 


very bad indeed in this camp. We had noth- 
ing — no food to speak of, no quarters to keep 
out of the weather, no fire to warm ourselves 
by, no clothing but rags to hide our naked- 

" Well," remarked Ben Cooper, " so long as 
it was kept from the knowledge of the British, 
it was not at its worst." 

** But it was not kept from their knowledge," 
returned the Porcupine. ^* General Howe 
knew of our situation all the time I " 

" And he did not attack ! " cried Ezra, 

" He had been expecting reinforcements, so 
our spies learned," replied the dwarf with a 
wise nod of the head. " And as they did not 
arrive, he kept waiting. You know," and 
here a wide grin spread across the speaker's 
face, " that he's tried our mettle once, and so 
he was in no hurry to do so again without a 
good force behind him." 

*' And the general ? '^ asked Ben, " how did 
he take it all ? " 

" He went about as calm as the morning," 
replied the Porcupine in high admiration. 
" You'd never have thought but what every- 


thing was as well as it could be. He seemed 
always planning and building defenses. 
General Putnam was told to occupy and 
fortify Cobble Hill. Two half moon batteries 
were thrown up between Lechmere's Point 
and Cambridge River. Three places between 
Sewall's Point and Roxbury Neck were also 
strengthened, to be manned in case of a sortie 
when the bay is frozen over.'* 

*' But that things have taken a turn, I can 
see plainly," said Ezra. ** The camp has a 
brisk look ; the men look content ; the officers 
hold their heads high." 

'' It all began with Captain Manly's capture 
of the * Nancy ' brig," said the Porcupine. *' Ah, 
there is a brave and enterprising officer; if 
there are many on the sea like him, they'll 
give the King's admirals trouble enough." 

" The ' Nancy ' is probably the ordnance brig 
we heard Colonel Prescott mention," said Ben 
to Ezra. 

The Porcupine nodded his head. 

"It's more than likely," said he. "All 
have talked of it more or less. You see Cap- 
tain Manly, who is in command of the ' Lee,* 
took the * Nancy * as she came into the bay, 


and carried her into Cape Ann. And she 
proved to be a most wonderful treasure ship — 
crammed to the hatches with military stores 
of every sort." 

** Excellent I *^ cried both listeners together. 

" So full was she, and so struck was Gen- 
eral Washington by her value, that he at once 
sent a strong guard to protect her. He felt 
sure that the British would not rest until they 
had done something to recover a vessel so 

"And did they?" 

" They had not the time, so prompt were 
the general's orders, and so rapidly were they 
carried out. Teams were impressed, the min- 
utemen about Cape Ann were called out to 
give their help ; and in a little while the cargo 
was discharged and removed to a safe place 
within our lines." 

" Now that was an admirable stroke of for- 
tune," cried Ben Cooper. " The stores must 
have pleased everybody much, to change the 
complexion of things so." 

" They would have pleased a king," said the 
Porcupine. " There were two thousand mus- 
kets ; one hundred thousand flints, thirty 


thousand round shot for one, six and twelve- 
pounders ; thirty tons of musket shot ; eleven 
mortar beds ; and one great thirteen-inch brass 
mortar that weighs not an ounce less than 
twenty-seven hundred pounds.'^ 

"A most astonishing ship, indeed!'' said 
Ezra Prentiss. 

" Then there came powder and shells from 
New York about the same time. Barracks 
were built to house the troops during the 
severe weather. Other ships were taken by 
Captain Manly and seamen of his quality. 
Among the cargo were thousands of uniforms 
intended for the British soldiers, and hun- 
dreds of barrels of salt beef and pork ; woolen 
goods in vast quantities ; flour, hard biscuit 
and other things were taken. And, so then, 
as we were very well off, indeed, the recruits 
began to take heart and offer themselves for 
service : the regiments are filling up, and we 
will soon be quite strong once more." 

" But the British," asked Ezra, " how do 
they like all their winter's wear and provi- 
sions falling into other hands?" 

** Why," answered the dwarf with a shake 
of his big head, " they endure it very ill in- 


deed. As we advanced into comfort, so did 
they fall in need. Fuel and food are very 
high in Boston at this time ; and the citizens 
are suffering much more than the soldiery. 
Some few vessels have gotten safely by our 
privateers, but Howe has kept their stores for 
the use of his troops." 

" They have made no advance, then ? " said 

" Rather they have fallen back,*' answered 
the dwarf, and he grinned delightedly. " They 
had begun to build barracks on Bunker Hill, 
but building materials were so scarce, the 
winds grew so keen, and the snow fell so con- 
stantly that Howe at length bid Clinton strike 
his tents and return to Boston. Lieutenant- 
Colonel Agnew and seven hundred are left to 
man the three redoubts that are now upon the 

The middle of December found Boston all 
but upon the verge of starvation. The towns- 
people were desperate and Lord Howe feared 
that they might rise against him. He offered 
to allow any of those who desired to leave the 
city, and like Gage, covertly threatened the 
torch in case he were attacked from within. 


As a protection from an assault by Washing- 
ton, which he daily dreaded, there came an 
outbreak of smallpox among his troops. 

^* That will keep the rebels out, even if our 
guns fail to do so,'^ he said. 

British cannon were planted all about in 
the city's hills and open places ; its churches 
and unoccupied houses were torn down by the 
soldiers for fuel ; Faneuil Hall was a playhouse 
in which mocking comedies were presented ; 
Old South Church was used as a riding school. 
Under a strict martial law the people of the 
city were all but prisoners. Thousands now 
took advantage of Howe's permission, crossed 
in boats to Point Shirly and dispersed into 
the country. 

On the first day of January, in that most 
memorable year of 1776, the first continental 
flag was thrown to breeze, and as its thirteen 
stripes rippled at the top of the pole, it was 
saluted with tremendous shouting ; and thir- 
teen guns were fired by way of a salute. Upon 
the same day, the King's speech upon the 
opening of Parliament was received in camp. 
For the first time the Americans heard that 
King George contemplated the hiring of for- 


eign troops to help subdue them. At this, 
their rage was without bounds ; they hooted 
the King, his Parliament and his army ; then 
they burnt his speech and otherwise bid him 

A little later than this came the news of the 
American defeat at Quebec and the death of 
the heroic young Montgomery, whom Wash- 
ington had selected to lead the expedition 
against that city. Appeals were then sent out 
to various colonies to hurry some fresh regi- 
ments to Cambridge ; and Congress formally 
authorized Washington to attack Boston at any 
time and in any manner that he thought most 

When the army was finally in sufficient 
strength to warrant his so doing, Washington 
took the step that he long knew would bring 
him victory or defeat. 

*' It will bring on a general attack," he was 
heard to say ; '^ we will either be forced from 
our position, or the British will be compelled 
to take to their ships." 

This step was the occupation of Dorchester 
Heights. From this elevation Washington 
could reach Boston with the heavy guns from 


Ticonderoga, which had in the meantime been 
brought in by Colonel Knox. It was March 
when preparations were begun, and Ezra and 
his friends were in the thick of the matter. 

Gilbert Scarlett was especially valuable in 
the designing of chandeliers, fascines and such 
like, necessary in the erection of the works ; 
also with the aid of his boy friends, he worked 
with the spirit of a dozen in the collection of 
bateaux in which to transport the men. 

When the time for movement arrived, Wash- 
ington had forty-five of these clumsy craft, 
each capable of seating eighty men. Two 
floating batteries were held with them in the 
Charles River ; hundreds of militia came pour- 
ing into camp to lend what aid they could to 
the enterprise. 

The design was kept secret ; to divert the at- 
tention of the enemy a brisk bombardment 
and cannonade was begun on the night of the 
second of March, from Cobble Hill, Roxbury 
and Lechmere's Point. Many houses were 
shattered by this fire ; the British returned it 
with spirit, but did little damage. On the 
night of March fourth this was repeated, and 
about seven o'clock, General Thomas with 


about two thousand men marched to take pos- 
session of Dorchester Heights. The entrench- 
ing tools, under care of a large detachment, 
were sent on ahead ; later the main body, with 
three hundred carts, loaded with fascines and 
twisted hay, followed. 

All night the Americans labored ; the moon 
was brilliant, the guns roared, the arching 
shells burst high in the air. And when morn- 
ing dawned, two forts were in a sufficient state 
of advancement to resist small arms and 

If the British had been surprised to see the 
works raised in a night upon Breed's Hill, 
they were astounded at the sight of those 
which now met their gaze upon Dorchester 

" It looks like the work of twelve thousand 
men,'' declared Lord Howe to his generals. 
" The rebels have done more in one night 
than my army has done in a month. The 
genii must have aided them." 

These works commanded both the harbor 
and town of Boston. The British admiral at 
once decided that the fleet could not ride in 
safety unless the Americans were displaced. 


" We must do one of two things," he 
told General Howe. ''The Yankees must be 
driven from that post, or we must evacuate 

This enraged the governor. He had a 
very high notion of British honor and mili- 
tary superiority. 

" They will be driven from the Heights," he 
declared, grimly. 

At once he went to work. Twenty-four 
hundred men were ordered to embark in trans- 
ports, rendezvous at Castle William and 
make a night attack upon the American posi- 
tion. The command of this force was given 
to the gallant Earl Percy, the same who had 
come to the retreating column under Lieuten- 
ant-Colonel Smith as it fell back in defeat from 
Lexington in the spring before. 

Washington saw this movement and sent two 
thousand men to reinforce General Thomas ; 
and with the reinforcement marched Ezra 
Prentiss and his friends. Everywhere among 
the Americans was anxiety to meet the foe. 

*' I never saw such high spirits anywhere," 
said Nat Brewster. 

** Every man on the Heights seems exultant," 


said Ezra. *' They seem to think victory is 
ready at their hands." 

*' And a right good thought that is for men 
about to engage a hostile force/' observed 
Gilbert Scarlett. 

" Did you see the rows of barrels ? " asked 
George Prentiss. " They are filled with earth, 
and have been placed in front. Upon the 
enemies' advance they will be rolled down the 
hillside upon them." 

While things were being made ready, Gen- 
eral Washington appeared upon the ground to 
inspect what was going forward and to cheer 
up the troops. 

" Remember, men, it is the fifth of March," 
he said. '* Avenge the deaths of your brethren 
shot down in Boston." 

At fort Number Two, near Cambridge, a 
fine body of four thousand troops were 
paraded and made ready to assault the 
British lines. This was arranged into two 
divisions; one was under General Greene, the 
other under General Sullivan — and the whole 
under command of General Putnam. 

But the fight was not to be just yet. The 
wind blew up so furiously that the British 


transports could not reach their destinations ; 
and the surf was too heavy for boats to have 
made a landing. 

The next day the British attack was still 
further delayed for the same reason ; and all 
the time the Americans were increasing the 
strength of their works. 

" I can find it in my heart to be sorry that 
the attack was not made," Washington said to 
his generals. ** Everything was complete for 
the reception of the enemy ; we can hardly 
hope for a repetition of the same conditions." 

Howe was forced to abandon his project 
and his troops returned to Boston. His situ- 
ation was now perplexing and critical. The 
fleet could not ride at anchor because of the 
positions of the American batteries, and the 
British army was unable to drive them from 
these positions. The Boston Tories, in a 
panic of fear of what might happen, de- 
manded the protection which had long been 
guaranteed. No dispatches had been received 
from London for a long time. 

" It looks," grumbled the British officers, 
" as though we^d been left to get out of a bad 
Bcrape as best we can." 


" To remain in Boston/' said General Howe 
to the Tories, ** will put my troops in great 

'' But if you don't remain, you will put ua 
loyalists, and all property, in equal danger," 
promptly answered Ruggles, the Tory leader. 

But Howe was now looking at the other side 
of the picture. The fate of property was 
nothing to him when his army was in the 
balance. When he had assumed command, 
he had written the ministry many reasons 
why Boston should be held. But with the 
great guns upon Dorchester Heights frowning 
down upon him, he saw many reasons why 
he should abandon it. 

Washington desired to gain possession of 
the city above all else ; but he wished to do 
so without bloodshed if it could be done. 
However, he went on with his preparations. 
On the ninth he planted a battery on Bird's 
Hill and began firing upon the British ship- 
ping. Nook's Hill was an eminence greatly 
feared by Howe and his officers. All along 
they had felt that if the Americans estab- 
lished themselves upon it, Boston would, in- 
deed, be at their mercy. 


Washington now directed that Nook's Hill 
be occupied. A strong detachment was sent 
there in the night. While the guns were be- 
ing brought up, Ezra Prentiss noted a soldier 
impudently kindling a fire behind the hill. 
He sprang toward the man, crying ; 

'' Hello ! Put that out 1 " 

The man was a surly fellow and made a 
short reply. Ezra, without parleying, kicked 
the blazing wood about and began trampling 
upon it. But it was too late, the enemy saw 
the light, suspected what was going forward, 
and began to fire. This was the beginning of 
a night of terror ; the American batteries an- 
swered at once from Cobble Hill, Lechmere's 
Point, Roxbury and Cambridge ; the British 
thundered and raved through the darkness 
like the stubborn fighters that they were. 
More than eight hundred cannon-shots were 
fired before morning, and the result was that 
the American works upon Nook's Hill were 
stopped and the troops withdrawn. 

But at the same time, this event showed 
General Howe that to attempt to hold Boston 
any longer would be folly. His horse trans- 
ports were ordered to fall back to Castle Will- 


iam ; all goods which would likely be of 
value to the " rebels " were confiscated. Am- 
munition which could not be carried was 
thrown into the river ; guns were spiked and 
gun-carriages were broken. 

While waiting for their ships to assemble, 
the city was practically given up to sack by 
the Tories. This news reached the American 
lines and Ezra and George Prentiss were 
greatly worried about it. 

"If the British really mean to evacuate, 
this will make it all the harder for those 
Tories who are left behind," said George. 

" And grandfather is just determined, or 
stubborn, enough to be among those," an- 
swered Ezra, anxiously. 

In both their minds was a picture of the 
grim old merchant, deserted, unprotected and 
at the mercy of a populace whom he had long 
reviled. And both fervently hoped that the 
outgoing of Howe would be at once followed 
by the ingoing of Washington ; as an un- 
patroUed city, even for a short time, might 
mean the death of Seth Prentiss. 

On March sixteenth, as the British were 
still apparently undecided whether to abandon 


their now assembled vessels or no, Washington 
took the step that forced the issue. Once 
more he ordered a night occupation of Nook's 
Hill. And this time, in spite of the enemy's 
fire, he held it. 

The effect was instantaneous. At nine 
o'clock the garrison left Bunker Hill ; fleets 
of boats loaded with soldiers and Tories put 
out from the wharves of Boston. 

Instantly the American troops under Put- 
nam were put in motion. Bunker Hill was 
occupied ; a compact force crossed to Boston 
from that end ; another advanced across the 
Neck under Colonel Learned. These, under 
the command of Putnam, at once seized all the 
important posts and manned them. Ezra, 
Nat, Scarlett and the others, who had all 
crossed with Colonel Learned, rode in search 
of Putnam. When they found that stout 
warrior in the midst of his work, Ezra saluted 
and said : 

** General, if I and my friends can be spared, 
we'd like to ride to Sun Court." 

'* Why ? " asked Putnam. 

" My grandfather lives there ; he may be in 


" I understand/' replied the general. " Go 
at once ; you have my authority to put down 
any kind of illegal violence." 

So away the five dashed through the streets. 
The smashed doors and windows of stores 
mutely told their tale ; the rows of razed 
houses whose timbers had gone to keep the 
British army warm during the winter, left 
great gaps and also made the town look queer 
and strange. Gaunt and wan-faced people 
feebly cheered the boys as they raced over the 
stones ; bands of eager, wolfish-looking men 
were already prowling about in search of what 
plunder the outgoing army had been forced 
to leave behind. 

As they approached Sun Court, a muffled 
roar began to reach their ears. It was the 
sound of distant voices, angry, threatening, 
and high-lifted. 

** Push on I " cried Ezra, his face whitening. 

Urging their mounts to the utmost, they 
wheeled out of Fish Street into Prince's. 
Louder grew the cries ; people were pouring 
into Sun Court from every direction. Turn- 
ing the corner the five rode over the bricked 
pavement into the midst of these and to the 


edge of a huge, swaying, shouting mob gathered 
before Seth Prentiss' door. A stout man with 
a very red face and wearing the smock of a 
butcher stood upon the steps. 

*' He's had his will with us this many a 
day," cried this person loudly, '* and now his 
British friends have left him for us to have 
our will with him." 

There was a shriek from the mob, and a 
tossing of hats and arms. 

** Let us have him out of his house," yelled 
a voice above all the others. " Let us show 
him that we, too, have our day." 

With one impulse the crowd swept forward ; 
some were battering upon the door and heavy 
shutters, when the boys and Scarlett came 
plunging through them. 

'* Hold I " cried Ezra, as he reached his 
grandfather's door. He wheeled his prancing 
horse, as did his friends, and faced the mob. 
" It is the order of General Putnam that no 
violence be offered to any one. In the name 
of the Continental Congress we bid you to 
stand back I " 

The uniforms of the five were new to the 
men of Boston, but the name of Putnam and 


the mention of the Continental Congress had 
their effect, and they hesitated. 

But the red-faced butcher urged them on. 

^* Will you be stopped by a parcel of boys ? '* 
he shouted. *' Will you be cheated of your 
revenge by a handful of young upstarts be- 
cause they came a-riding on horseback and 
use high words ? " 

The crowd wavered. The butcher saw this 
and redoubled his efforts ; then Scarlett dis- 
mounted and approached him quietly. Hook- 
ing his thumbs in his sword belt the soldier 
of fortune said : 

** My friend, you are a stout fellow enough, 
but you make overmuch noise for even one 
of your girth." 

And with that he took the butcher by the 
scruff of the neck and shook him like a rat. 
The man sputtered and coughed and fought 
back. But he was but as an infant in the hands 
of the slender but powerful adventurer, and 
as they witnessed his discomfiture, some of the 
crowd began to laugh. Then a roar of mirth 
went up ; and seeing the good nature of the 
crowd, Ezra held up his hand for silence and 
cried : 


*' Boston is now in the hands of General 
Washington and his army. Justice will be 
done every man. It is your place to see to it 
that no good American, through a spirit of 
revenge, falls into the usages of the British. 
Go to your homes. If you have a complaint 
to make of any man, make it to the proper au- 
thorities. To take the law into your own 
hands is dangerous, for you cannot see the end 
of such a thing." 

There were a few scattered cheers to show 
that the people realized the force of this rea- 
soning. But at the same time was heard the 
quick tramp of a body of Continental infantry, 
one of the many sent to patrol the city ; and 
Ezra never knew but what their arrival had 
more to do with the mob's change of front 
than anything he had said. At any rate, 
they were instantly seized with a huge admi- 
ration at this display of their national force, 
and burst into loud huzzas. The officer in 
command of the troop bid them disperse, as it 
was against the general's orders for any crowds 
to collect until the city had come under con- 
trol ; and as both townfolk and troop passed 
out of Sun Court, Nat Brewster said : 


"It was a fortunate circumstance that 
brought this finish about. I had thought to 
have harder work of it." 

" And I/^ said a voice behind them. 

All turned. The door of the mansion had 
opened and Seth Prentiss stood before them. 
He was dressed in gown and slippers ; and 
large silver-rimmed spectacles seemed to add 
to the harshness of his face. 

Regarding both Ezra and George for a mo- 
ment in silence, he said : 

" I had not expected to ever bid either of 
you welcome to my house. But if I were to 
say that I did not silently welcome you when 
those good friends of mine came hammering 
at my door, I would not be speaking the truth." 

He ran his eyes over them with an expres- 
sion upon his face that neither of his grand- 
sons had ever seen there before ; then he con- 
tinued : 

" Neither did I ever think that you would 
make a better selection of government than 

" Grandfather I " both boys flung themselves 
from their steeds and approached him, joy in 
their faces. 


" I mean it," cried the old merchant. " None 
has kept faith with the King more loyally 
than I have done. But he has deserted me — 
he has deserted his city. And now I desert 
him I " 

He wrung the hands of his delighted grand- 
sons, then shook his gnarled fist in the direc- 
tion of the bay. 

" Their ships are there, crowded with armed 
men ; they have fled, and in so doing showed 
me that they are not competent to rule." 
Just then another compact body of Continen- 
tals went by with throbbing drums and squeal- 
ing fife. The old man watched them to the 
turn of the street. " Your General Washing- 
ton is not of the fleeing kind," spoke he. " He 
believes in a cause and holds to it like a true 
man should." 

** In that, Master Prentiss, you say rightly," 
said Gilbert Scarlett. " And not only is he a 
true man, but a great soldier as well — a soldier 
destined to gain many victories. One victory 
already he has gained beside the taking of Bos- 
ton Town," with a laugh. " And that is over 
Gilbert Scarlett, soldier of fortune. A com- 
mission is mine, they have told me, for the 


asking. Always have I loved great leaders ; 
and you may be sure that I will not delay 
longer now in asking for if 

" Sir," responded Seth Prentiss, ** you show 
yourself a man of sense. And now," with a 
bow, " will you dismount and enter? Also 
you, young gentlemen," to Nat and Ben. 
" From now on the friends of my grandsons 
will be very welcome here." 

And so they tied their horses and entered 
the fine old house. As the door shut behind 
him, closing out the distant huzzas and the 
throbbing of the Continental drums, a sense of 
great peace filled Ezra^s heart. 

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